Frequently Asked Questions

Applying

1. What is the application screening process?

Our application is open all year round. We review applications on a rolling basis. Upon admission, we transfer the full investment. We don’t wait until the program begins.

Interested founders can apply online. The application process consists of the following stages:
1. Application Review – Your application is reviewed by a mix of founders in the Iterative community, the internal Iterative team and others.

2. First Interview with Venture Partner – If your application is passed to the next stage, you will be scheduled for a 30 minute call with one of our Venture Partners to learn more about your startup. Most of our Venture Partners are founders who have previously gone through the program.

3. Final Interview with General Partners – If the first interview is positive, you will be invited to a final interview with either
Brian Ma or Hsu Ken Ooi, Iterative’s General Partners. This will be a more in-depth conversation to learn about who you are and your business.

Iterative is not consensus-driven, which means only one General Partner needs to decide they want to invest.

In general, applicants should hear back from us within two weeks of submitting an application.

2. When can I apply?

Our application is open all year round. We review applications on a rolling basis. Upon admission, we transfer the full investment. We don’t wait until the program begins.

3. How do I best answer the questions in the application form?

We've created a guide on how to think about the questions in our application form here.

4. How does Iterative select companies to fund?

We assess startups in many ways, but in general, we are looking to answer two questions: (1) Are founders working on an important problem?, and (2) Are the founders capable of solving that problem?

Read more about how we think about these two questions here and here.

5. How much does Iterative invest?

We invest between US $150,000 and US $500,000 using a "post-money" SAFE in return for roughly 10% of your company.

6. Do all founders need to join the interview sessions?

We prefer all founders join as we are investing in a team of founders, not one specific person.

7. When will I hear from Iterative about my application status?

Generally, within two weeks. Right before an application deadline, we usually experience a spike in applications, which can cause some delays. We encourage folks to apply as early as possible to hear back from us in a timely manner. Our next application deadline is in January 2024, and we encourage early applications. Apply today!

8. I only have an idea. Am I too early to apply to Iterative?

No. We’ve invested in startups that are less than a month old, are just an idea and have no validation or growth.

9. What does Iterative look for in startups with just a concept and no traction?

We look at the same things we look for in companies with traction. See question 3 above.

10. How does Iterative help late-stage startups?

Late-stage founders (companies with $100K+ in annual revenue, 20+ employees, etc.) have found our program and support helpful, particularly in identifying and solving their most pressing problems. Some specific areas we’ve helped with is building on existing growth, identifying new growth channels, hiring, and fundraising. Read more here.

11. I am a solo founder. Can I apply or do I need a co-founder?

We invest in both solo founders and co-founding teams.

12. Do I need to incorporate before I apply?

No, you don’t need to incorporate before applying. You will need to incorporate to get funded, but we make our decisions to invest in a company regardless of whether they’re incorporated. If we want to invest and you haven’t incorporated, we can help you get incorporated.

13. Do I need to be incorporated in Singapore?

We strongly recommend being a Singapore entity because you'll vastly increase your chances of getting subsequent funding from investors. That said, it’s not necessary to be a Singapore entity to apply to Iterative. We've helped our companies make this transition during the program.

14. I do not have a college degree. Does that matter to Iterative?

No, a college degree does not matter to us. We accept founders who have dropped out or not graduated. In fact, there are no hard requirements when applying to Iterative.

15. I am a student or working a full-time job. Can I apply to Iterative?

We don’t invest in founders who are not working on their startup full-time. Regardless of the number of hours you’re spending on the startup. In our experience, startups are hard enough if it’s the only thing someone is focused on. We think it’s too difficult to be the founder of a successful startup with other academic or professional obligations.

16. I already applied. Can I apply again?

You can apply once per batch. For example, if you applied already for the S23 batch program, you will need to wait until the next batch application opens to apply again.

But do apply! Historically, companies that applied to us multiple times tended to have a higher acceptance rate (2x higher) than for first-time applicants.

17. I participated in another accelerator already. Can I apply to Iterative? Will this hurt my chances?

Yes, you can still apply to Iterative. We've invested in companies that have come from other accelerators.

If your application gets passed to the interview stage, we’ll want to have a good understanding of why you think it's necessary to join another accelerator. If you are looking to learn something specific, we’ll want to understand why your previous accelerator didn’t help you do that.

Our main reason for these types of questions is we want to make sure that we can help you fill these gaps. If we don’t feel like we can help you, we will tell you.

18. I applied previously and got rejected. Can I apply again? Will the previous rejection hurt my chances?

You can absolutely apply again. Previously applying does not hurt your chances. Historically, companies that applied to us multiple times tended to have a higher acceptance rate (2x higher) than for first-time applicants.

Program

1. What happens during Iterative’s accelerator program?

Learn about the program here.

2. How is Iterative’s program different from other programs in Southeast Asia?

There are two main factors that set Iterative apart from other programs in Southeast Asia.
(1) One core component of our program is weekly 1-on-1 Office Hours with Lead Partners. Iterative Lead Partners are all founders - no exceptions.

(2) When we invest, we invest the full amount immediately. We don’t wait for the program to start, there are no milestones to meet, no clawbacks and absolutely no program fees.

Read more here.

3. What does the ideal company for Iterative’s program look like?

There is no ideal company. The program is different depending on what the company needs help with. We work closely with founders to meet them where they are and give them the support they need.

4. What type of founder does Iterative look for?

Here are three things we look for in founders.

5. Is Iterative industry agnostic?

Yes, we are industry agnostic. We are open to exploring all sectors. For us, the problem you are trying to solve is more important than the industry category.

6. What is the most helpful aspect of the program, apart from capital?

We believe the most helpful part of the program is office hours. Office hours are weekly 1:1 sessions between a founder and one of Iterative’s Visiting Partners.

Office hours are an opportunity to have successful founders work closely with you on your startup. Learn more about Visiting Partners here.

7. What is the 5-7% growth mandate about?

The goal of our program is to help founders significantly increase the value of their startups. Startups can increase the value of their startup by getting more people to actively use their product (ie. growth and retention).

At the beginning of the program, we work closely with founders to understand your biggest challenges and growth blockers. We set targets together. The goal is for you to hit 5-7% growth in your target area each week.

If you are hitting your targets, the conversation you’ll have with your Lead Partner will be focused on figuring out what’s working and how to do more of it. If you are not hitting your targets, the conversation will be focused on figuring out what’s not working, what we can learn from it, and what to do next.

8. How does Iterative help founders with fundraising?

The last 4 weeks of our 12-week program is all about fundraising. We run a month-long fundraising bootcamp to teach founders everything we know about fundraising. Fundraising is a skill, and we teach you how to build this skill to become effective fundraisers.

During the bootcamp, we take you through the entire cycle, including identifying the right investors, creating an effective pitch, organising your outreach, and how to evaluate a term sheet.

We also spend a lot of time working on your pitch, practising in groups, and giving you concrete feedback.

9. How does Iterative help with fundraising post-Demo day?

At the end of the program, founders pitch to our network of 400+ investors on Demo Day. Investors from Southeast Asia, the US and elsewhere attend our Demo Day.

We make an estimated 300+ introductions per batch. After Demo Day, we support founders with introductions and negotiations.  Founders receive a lot of questions from investors, and it can be hard to navigate these conversations. We give guidance and feedback on how to respond.

10. Does Iterative help with introductions to target customers and partners?

We do, but that’s not the purpose of the program. The main purpose of the program is to teach a startup how to effectively target customers and partners themselves.

11. Can Iterative help me find a co-founder?

Not officially in that we don’t have a co-founder matching program. We help with the search if necessary, but our more meaningful support comes from helping you evaluate why you think you need to find a co-founder, whether it is the right time, and what you are trying to accomplish.

12. Can we get an investment from Iterative without joining the program?

No, the program and Iterative’s investment are the same thing. We do not make investments without acceptance into the program. To accept the investment, you must confirm your participation in the program.

We believe our program is the most valuable part of Iterative and that participating in the program will do more for the long-term success of your company than our investment.

13. Can we join the accelerator without Iterative’s investment?

No. See answer to question 12.

Logistics

1. When does the program take place?

Iterative hosts two 12-week programs each year. Our Winter Batch is from February through May. Our Summer Batch is from July through September.

The dates will fluctuate each year depending on holidays (Lunar New Year, etc).

2. Is the program in-person, hybrid or fully remote?

We have an in-person orientation and the rest of the program is fully remote.

3. What is the time commitment for the program?

The minimum time commitment is a couple of hours a week, but most founders spend significantly more time than that because they find the program helpful to their startup. Participation in our program is working on your startup. It is not additional or supplementary work; we designed the program to help founders focus on their startups.

During the program, we work closely with founders to determine the best metrics for your startup and help you build growth and momentum.

4. How much time do founders get with partners and other program participants?

If founders choose to participate in all program offerings, they can spend between 3-4 hours per week in structured activities with partners and other program participants. Additionally, founders can also informally connect with partners and other participants throughout the program.

5. Is the program organised by cohorts (e.g. stage or industry)?

The program itself is not cohort-based. All founders begin the program together, regardless of growth stage or industry. Depending on the batch, we have organised certain group office hours by industry, geography, etc.

6. When does the next batch begin?

Check out our Apply page for the next batch dates.

7. When does the application open for the next batch?

Our application is open all year round. Check out our Apply page for details on the next batch dates.

We review applications all year round. If you are accepted, we invest the full amount immediately. We don’t wait for the program to start, there are no milestones to meet, no clawbacks and no program fees.

Funding

1. What type of startups does Iterative invest in?

We are industry and growth stage agnostic. We invest in very early stage to late stage. Companies that started mere weeks prior to our investment with just an idea, as well as companies with millions in revenue have been part of our program.

We assess startups in many ways, but in general, we are looking to answer two questions: (1) Are founders working on an important problem?, and (2) Are the founders capable of solving that problem?

Read more about how we think about these two questions here and here.

2. Does Iterative only invest in Southeast Asia?

The company either needs to be based in Southeast Asia or focused on a market in Southeast Asia.

3. Does Iterative invest in very early stage startups?

Yes. We’ve invested in companies with only a concept.

4. Does Iterative invest in late stage startups?

Yes. We define late stage as companies that have at least US $1M in ARR, are growing 5% to 7% weekly, and/or have previously raised from other investors.

5. What are Iterative’s standard investment terms?

We have a standard deal for all companies accepted into the accelerator. We invest up to $500K using a "post-money" SAFE (simple agreement for future equity) in return for roughly 10% of your company.

We don't charge anything in return and are upfront about how much of the capital you're selling. We think transparency wins when it comes to long and productive relationships, so we're upfront with our terms.

Read more about our standard investment terms here.

6. How do I qualify for the $500,000 investment?

US $500K investments typically look like companies that are farther along. For example, companies that have at least $1M ARR, are already growing 5-7% weekly, or have landed or implemented major contracts with enterprise partners.

7. Is Iterative flexible with investment terms?

On very rare occasions, we've made exceptions to our standard offer. Exceptions typically can happen only if a company is already making significantly more than $1M ARR and growing much faster than typical (2x monthly), and/or has a exploding term sheet from a top tier investor. No promises, but please apply and we're happy to consider these exceptions.

8. Does Iterative provide funding administrative support?

Iterative has everything needed to get you funded properly. We can connect you with resources to establish your entity, clean up your cap tables, redomicile, etc. We've even helped founders work with their previous investors on company recaps. We use a simple SAFE agreement and are quick to wire funds.

Having navigated this process hundreds of times now, we've seen and fixed most issues. We'll help.

9. Who are Iterative’s LPs? How long is the fund life?

In November 2022, Iterative raised $55M in its second fund.

Fund II was led by Cendana, K5 Global, Village Global, Goodwater Capital with participation from a large network of Silicon Valley founders and execs including Arash Ferdowsi (Dropbox), Achmad Zaky (Bukalapak), Andrew Chen (General partner a16z, Uber), Qasar Younis (Former COO YC, Applied Intuition), David Shim (Foursquare), Kum Hong Siew (Head of Airbnb Asia), Moses Lo (Founder, Xendit), and many more.

Learn more about Fund II here.

Post-Program

1. What happens after the 12-week program is over?

We view our program as a 12-week orientation into our community. After these 12 weeks, you are officially part of our community, and you will continue receiving support from us as well as other alumni founders.

We have a team dedicated to helping our portfolio companies, from network introductions and navigating investor conversations to growth challenges and expansion questions.

2. What is Iterative’s community like?

Iterative was founded by founders, for founders. We’ve started from zero multiple times. We’ve been rejected. We’ve struggled. We’ve persevered. We continue to build, iterate, and improve. Because of our experiences, we value empathy, honesty, accountability, and open-mindedness.

We strive to create a community that reflects this: a community of empathetic and honest founders, helping other founders.

3. Who makes up Iterative’s community?

Iterative’s community is made up of past founders who have participated in our program, visiting partners, and our network of experts.

4. How do community members help each other?

Our community helps each other in many ways, from sharing personal experiences about the nuances of the startup journey to answering specific questions with references and resources.

Some examples of questions our community members have supported each other with include:

- We’re going to get ISO 27001 certified. Can anybody recommend a consultant to assist us?
- I need advice on how we can improve our Go-to-Market fit (and specifically X, Y, and Z). Was there anything that worked for you when you looked to scale up to $1M ARR?
- Any recommendations for recruiting agencies focused on tech startups? We’re exploring options.