The Future Is Fractional. Here’s What It Means For You & Your Startup.

What’s “in” for 2024? With startups, it’s fractional leadership.

Hiring the average full-time executive with 25 years of experience can cost a startup $274,500, while a part-time fractional executive with the same experience can cost a third of that, according to business author John Arms

But it isn’t just about the capital savings. Fractional executives can fill technical or business blindspots an early-stage founder might have early on.

Caitlin Ferguson, a fractional COO based in Atlanta with CEOF Consulting, said teams bring her on when they need “somebody who can come in very quickly, understand the challenges, understand the dynamics of [a] team, and provide value usually on Day One.” 

A fractional employee can also improve a startup’s “executive presence” quickly, said fractional CTO Eric Blackwell. That is particularly important as a young startup looks to scale and bring on important big customers.

For business owners hyper-focused on the corporate vision, a fractional executive can help bring “consistency” to a team without getting bogged down in day-to-day processes, says James Williams Jr. and Paris Williams, the husband and wife team behind the fractional CFO firm Next Level Financial in Suwanee, Georgia. 

Paris and James Williams, Next Level Financial



Across the Southeast, fractional leaders are joining teams as Chief Marketing, Operations, Technology, and Financial Officers, bringing their senior and corporate experience to scrappy startups. 

There are national groups like Fractionals United designed to help the growing number of fractional leaders out there. In Atlanta, there are organizations like Telos and TechCXO that connect startups with fractional talent. And there are also a growing number of leaders that have struck out on their own to build fractional businesses.

Some of the fractional leaders we spoke with came from large corporate or Fortune 500 executive teams. Others helped scale impressive startups of their own. But regardless of their background, they all realized a big gap in the talent market. 

Edie Woelfle, a software engineer by training, was in game design and development before creating Keiboarder. Now she comes in as a fractional CTO to help startups at an inflection point with their technical needs.

James Williams was in the finance and professional services world in Chicago, but business owners kept seeking his help once their financial needs outgrew what a CPA and bookkeeper could do. 

Ferguson built her career across the Atlanta innovation space with Curiosity Lab and Three Five Two before jumping into fraction COO work. 

Blackwell worked at NCR, EY, and multiple startups. Today as a fractional CTO, Blackwell has clients that are just in the ideation phase and others that are scaling with big clients. 

Eric Blackwell (From LinkedIn)


The fractional leaders we spoke to work with startups at a variety of different stages. So how do you know if your startup would benefit from a fractional C-Suite?

The team over at Next Level Financial said that a company is ready to bring on a fractional CFO when they have their internal bookkeeping in order but need help with forecasting, analysis, and cash management. 

For Woelfle, a fractional CTO is helpful when a non-technical founder needs to ensure that what they are building from  a technical standpoint fits with business goals. 

“The biggest thing I do on the day to day is making sure that what [the startup founder] is asking for and what their developers are working on are actually meeting the goals that we’ve set for the business,” Woelfle told Hypepotamus. “I always hear from my clients that they wish they would have found me sooner…because they made decisions along the way, technically, that put them behind where they wanted to be as a business and as a technical product.”