Fractional CTO Services for Startups and Small Businesses

The Company

Circinaut offers expert technical consulting services to start-ups, SMBs, and investors. It is the consulting service of Rian Schmidt providing hands-on and consulting services such as web and mobile app development, technical board and advisory, and due diligence.

Why Circinaut?

Circinaut is a (very) small boutique consultancy that provides a "white glove" service to clients, with a focus on quality, responsiveness, and transparency. We are committed to providing the highest quality, personalized partnership to our clients with a focus on their business goals and objectives. When you engage with Circinaut, you will always be working directly with Rian as your primary point of contact and technical lead, even if we ultimately engage Circinaut partners as part of the project.

Our Ideal Clients

Typically, this is a smaller company that does not have the resources to hire a full-time CTO or technical lead, but that still needs a technical expert on their team-- either to advise or to get their hands dirty building product. Circinaut is a good fit for clients who are looking for a genuinely trusted partner with not only a high level of technical expertise but who also understands the business and can take a consultative approach to solving problems.

We are also a good fit for investors who are looking for a technical expert to help them evaluate potential investments or to help them with due diligence.

Read Rian's latest article:

About Circinaut.

Acer circinatum, the vine maple, is a species of maple native to western North America, from southwest British Columbia to northern California, usually within 300 kilometres (190 mi) of the Pacific Ocean coast, found along the Columbia Gorge and Coastal Forest. –Wikipedia

Aside from the reference to our Pacific Northwest roots, we like to think of a "circinaut" as someone who helps you navigate the winding, complex path of building a technology project.


Rian Schmidt, Principal:

Rian Schmidt has held Head of Engineering and CTO roles in companies ranging from giants like Amazon’s Zappos to small venture-backed and bootstrapped start-ups.

He now serves as a full-time CTO and part-time freelance technical consultant, technical advisor, and fractional CTO for clients needing help getting a project launched (or rescued) and with due diligence research on potential acquisitions or investments.

Rian holds an MBA from Stanford University, a degree in electrical engineering from the University of Minnesota and the CISSP certification from ISC2. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his family, his two dogs, and a flock of chickens. Classic Portland.

How We Work

Hourly or Retainer

Our most common relationship is based on an hourly rate or monthly retainer. Retainers can be quoted at a discount to on-demand hourly service and provide guaranteed access when needed.

Fixed Price Projects

Given a clear deliverable, we can quote a fixed price that we won’t exceed without the client’s explicit approval.

Application Development

Application Development

Data-driven, cloud-native web application development on your platform or ours. We build or rescue your project and then work with you as a technical advisor to develop a plan to keep it operating at peak effectiveness.

Sample Engagements

Long-term contract CTO for an immigration law firm to completely redesign a travel assessment application from its unmanageable prototype to a modern, API-driven web and mobile application, work with clients, and manage staff.

Create a dynamic, CMS-based questionnaire for a financial services client to help them guide their own clients in assessing and improving their business practices. The system calculates industry benchmarks and scores while allowing for the client to adjust questions and weightings over time.

Research and Advising

We can act as your representative in researching potential investments, projects, or web development partners. Past engagements have included reports on technical due diligence and recommendations on the future direction of a mission critical application.

Sample Engagements

Represent a private equity firm in performing technical due diligence prior to a large follow-on investment in a medical insurance processing start-up-- going on-site to interview the engineering team and evaluate the platform.

Complete a custom research project for a large logistics company to help them understand the complex architecture of a core component of their systems. By working with both the client and developer, we were able to translate between the two and help the client better understand the existing situation and potential for improvement.

Research and Advising
Website Development

Website Development

When our clients have outgrown their static HTML sites, or their Wordpress sites are no longer maintainable or providing the functionality needed, we work with both internal and external designers to create a custom solution using current technologies.

Sample Engagements

Work with a trusted designer to migrate a legal services firm from their hard-to-manage, outdated Wordpress site to a modern CMS and React-based site with Salesforce integration and fuzzy search capabilities.

Modernize the hosting and development infrastructure to utilize current container and continuous integration techniques to eliminate manual server configurations and deployments for an apparel manufacturer.