Meet A Minnesota Tech CTO: Chris Nelson, ClickSWITCH



Thank you Tarmac for underwriting our Meet a Minnesota CTO series, where we get up close and personal with Minnesota’s chief techies!

Chris Nelson is the CTO of ClickSWITCH, a fintech startup in Minneapolis’ North Loop focused on helping account holders switch their accounts from one financial institution to another.

How long have you been working in techn for and what is your technical background?

I have been working in technology my entire career, which spans more than 30 years of corporate experience. I went to school for Electrical Engineering and have done nearly every job in IT since I left school.

What are you focused on right now?

As a bootstrapped startup with a strong sales focus, ClickSWITCH now has an awesome problem, scaling the business. I’m focused on enabling technologies that allow exponential transactional growth coupled with our ability to effectively fulfill those transactions.

What are the some of the technologies within your company and IT environment?

ClickSWITCH is fully cloud-deployed and takes advantage of an array of PaaS services. We’ve also integrated a lot of innovative FinTech services via API to deliver unique value that wouldn’t have been possible say, 5 years ago.

How do you ensure that IT plans, projects and objectives are aligned with business outcomes?

Took a page from the Google playbook, and we use OKRs to keep our goals set high, and our progress against them transparent and honest. ClickSWITCH is small enough and flat enough to keep everyone in touch and moving in the same direction.

What is the size of your department and how is it organized/managed?

The technology team is less than 10 people depending on project activity, we are flat, lean, and dynamic. The team is largely self-organized, meeting daily to keep aligned with our goals.

How does your company approach recruiting and retention for technical positions?

We approach recruiting by having a group discussion focused on mutual fit. The candidate needs to fit with us, and we need to fit for the candidate. We focus on the right work ethic, personality, and attitude. Retention is focused on a defined role framework, focused employee engagement, and a fair and transparent salary structure.

How do you personally keep up with the ever changing technology landscape?

ThoughtWorks. Martin Fowler. r/technology & r/futurology

What excites you about where technology is heading?

I spent the last 5 years in the content and data science field. The developments around NLP and machine learning are incredibly exciting. Fintech is driving some long needed change in Financial Services and is where I’m currently focused. Really cool stuff happening here too.

What concerns you about where technology is heading?

Two words. Social media.

What is your opinion of Minnesota’s tech industry – how could it be better?

I think there is a great deal of talent in Minnesota that is locked up in “safe” corporate jobs that I wish we could better liberate to do more game-changing things, and establish Minnesota as a worthy competitor for innovation. We have a long history in MN of industrial, health care and retail innovation. I’d like to see more small scale, nimble innovation centers driven by the larger anchor corporations.

What are you into outside of technology?

My wife and I have two girls under age five. I don’t have time to be into anything else! #dadlife

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you!