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Fractional CTO

Hey there! I’m Zach. A bit about me: I grew up in Canada and went to the University of Waterloo for Computer Engineering. In my last year of school, I founded a company in the short-term housing space called Kopa. We went through YC in W19. Since then, I’ve been doing many different things:

  • Working at On Deck and helping them scale the product engineering team from 4-40+
  • Early-stage investing with Village Global, Pioneer Fund Shaan Puri and Ian Logan
  • Advising multiple early-stage companies on hiring, product, fundraising, etc.
  • Running CTO dinners in Toronto
  • and much more

Check out my LinkedIn if you want to learn about all the things I’ve done: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zlwaterfield/

I’m now working with early-stage companies to help them build their team and product. I tend to work with pre-seed and seed-stage companies that are pre-PMF. Occasionally, I will work with a Series A company looking to scale out.

Areas I help:

  • Hiring - I can help design your engineering interview process and interview candidates to join the team. I don’t actively help with sourcing but will refer candidates I come across.
  • MVP - I can work with your early team to build your MVP, making sure to focus on the key problems and not overbuild.
  • Architecture design and planning - In the early days, you want to default to building while also making considerations for the ability to scale and expand the feature set.
  • Product and engineering process - I’ve spent a lot of time designing product processes. I can help you design one that fits your team's needs and help you iterate on it as you scale.
  • Build vs buy analysis - Early on, especially when you don’t have a lot of funds, it can be hard to figure out if you should build or buy. I’ve done this analysis many times and can provide some frameworks to help think through the decision process.
  • Engineering Ladder - Once your team reaches a certain size, you need to consider adding structure and levels. I can help design these levels and place team members at the appropriate levels. Part of this also involves doing performance reviews, and I’m happy to help there.
  • + many other things like fundraising materials prep, product/engineering team structures, product vision, customer interviews + validation, infrastructure decisions, etc.

While I’m open to working with companies no matter what stack they are working on, here are some of my favourite technologies and the ones I tend to use:

Testimonials

Zach is one of the rare breed of engineers and former founders that is excellent across technical and non-tehnical aspects of a startup. He can easily traverse conversations on business models, to product, to technical stacks, stitching it all together. He’s also able to evaluate problems from a high level and then change altitudes to get deep into the weeds and implementation details. I couldn’t recommend Zach enough to startups looking for additional technical expertise at the early stages given my experience with him at both Village and On Deck.- Sam Kirschner - Director of ODX at On Deck, prev. Director of Operations at Village Global

Zach is unquestionably one of the most talented & helpful people I've ever met (I really mean this). He was mission-critical for my company across engineer hiring, roadmapping, fundraising, investor relations, and more. - Taylor Crane - Founder and CEO of Clubs Poker

Zach is the epitome of Get Shit Done. If there is a problem, Zach will solve it. In astounding speed. He is passionate, driven, and brilliant. He has a rare eye for future-proof technology. You will be fortunate to have him in your corner. - Jack Forbes - Growth at Masterclass, prev. my co-founder at Kopa

MORE COMING SOON

More Details:

My advising engagements are monthly agreements that include a preset number of hours for calls and unlimited text and email communication. These are 3-month minimums.

Occasionally, I will do shorter hourly-based engagements if that suits the company's needs.

I do not take any equity or advisor grants. If you have not raised money and are not in a position to pay, please reach out, and we can discuss options.

My Process:

Note: I only work with 2-3 companies at a time, so please reach out to see if I have availability.

  1. Introduction call: I want to make sure it’s a fit from both sides. I will set up an initial 30-minute call to review what you’re looking for and give you some background on myself.
  2. Questionnaire: If it is a fit, I will send a follow-up questionnaire to better understand your company and your goals with the engagement. I don’t want to add extra work to your plate, but I also want to ensure we are on the same page up front.
  3. Agreement: If all is well, we will sign an agreement and start working 🙌

What I ask from you:

  • Be on time - we only have a limited time together each week, let’s take full advantage of it.
  • Come prepared - what are your biggest problems I can help solve?
  • Give me frequent feedback on how I can improve to make the engagement useful for you.
  • If at any point you’re no longer getting value, we can reevaluate to see if it makes sense to continue the engagement.

Why it may not be a fit:

  • I’m not well versed in these areas, and while I can help, I won’t be as product focused in these engagements:
    • Native mobile applications
    • AI/ML products
    • Deep tech (hardware, bio, etc.)

Contact

Please email me at zlwaterfield@gmail.com if you’re interested in exploring working with me