Jumping in Without a CTO
I had a call with someone today who wants to start a company but feels she can’t because she does not have a technical cofounder. Talking to her reminded me of how self-conscious I was about being a non-technical founder. I realized that this common-held belief is something many successful founders have actually wrestled with. When I first launched Odetta, an online work platform, I thought I couldn’t start my company until I found that perfect CTO who could turn my ideas into reality. Looking back, I am so glad that I had the confidence and determination to go ahead and launch without one. Now, two years after getting started, Odetta has 200+ superstar women on our team. Our revenue continues to grow at a double-digit growth rate and we’ve served more than 75 paying clients. We’re constantly expanding the services we offer as well. Gosh, I am happy I didn’t wait to launch the company!
Without a CTO, I was intimately involved with building our solutions and technology stack that best served our needs and our clients’ needs. Someone I greatly respect said we should use “off-the-shelf” platforms until we hit $10M in annual recurring revenue (ARR). I was like WHAT! But what I found was that we were able to really focus on building our ideal outsourcing platform, now the Odetta SaaS outsourcing platform. We removed all the inefficiencies that have plagued traditional outsourcing and freelance platforms. The Odetta platform essentially breaks client requests into tasks and matches each task to the most skilled person in our global network. Because we are so obsessed with quality and results, we built-in quality assurance mechanisms and automation at every step along the way. This ultimately enabled us to build a very dynamic SaaS company that facilitates flexible asynchronous remote work at scale while empowering superstar women in developing countries.
I think we have something pretty special — Odetta is hitting some big growth and expansion milestones much earlier than I expected and it’s a fun place to work. I feel thankful for that initial advice because it allowed us to laser-focus on building a sustainable business model built on endearing employee and client relationships.
So, I am so happy to say that today, starting a company has never been easier. I would add that I truly think the biggest part of it is just showing up each day, and delivering value to whoever it is you serve. For me, I serve my Odettians first, and then our clients. And, that’s what has made our company sustainable and profitable. It’s intuitive, but people often forget that if you build a strong talent community, you’ll have more time to work tightly with your customers and deliver exceptional results.
Lastly, when starting a company, I think it's critical to have a strong vision of what you want to accomplish and why it is really important. The who cares question. For me, it was the idea of empowering women and making the world a better place while building a sustainable, profitable company. I traveled to East Asia and I was surprised to learn that there is a hidden pool of female talent in developing economies who are not part of the 9–5, nor are they on any existing freelancer platforms. I wanted to empower these women to make money and develop their careers through Odetta. Our platform serves our female workforce from more than 30 countries around the world by giving them the opportunity to work from home, to work when they want, and to work within a vibrant community of women committed to succeeding on their own terms. I didn’t need to have a technical co-founder to do this– I just needed the ambition to jump in and start. What I’ve realized is that if you never quit, one day you’ll look up, and be like WOW, that lives on because I forgot to be scared.