8 Things About Office Hours You Probably Didn't Know About

8 Things About Office Hours You Probably Didn't Know About

Yi Jun Phung
April 24, 2024

Imagine getting a coach who has founded and built successful companies before.

This coach works on your startup's biggest problems with you, pushes you to set more ambitious targets, and keeps you accountable every week to hit your goals. Think about the progress you'd make. Let's say you grow 5-7% every week, you'd have a growth rate of 12.6x to 33x annually.

As it turns out, you can get something like this - it's a core part of Iterative's Program.

It's called office hours.

What is Office Hours?

The term office hours come from universities, where professors set a dedicated time aside for students to get help on assignments. In Iterative's case, office hours are weekly 1:1 sessions between you, the founder, and one of Iterative’s General or Visiting Partners, where you'll update on your progress against your growth goals, and discuss challenges, priorities, and next steps towards the goal. You can think of office hours as one-week sprints for your company's growth.


If your startup is solving an an important problem with a significantly better solution, it should grow very fast. The reality, however, is that most startups don't - they're what we call ‘bugs’. Office hours are our primary way to help companies debug.

How Does It Work?

Let's say you joined Iterative's program, and you're going into office hours with your lead partner. A basic agenda is you and your lead partner will review your weekly Metrics Scorecard to see your growth rate - and see if you're growing fast or slow.

  • If you're growing fast (anything above 5-7% weekly growth, non-cumulative) - You and your lead partner will figure out what's working, why and how do more of that.
  • If you're growing slow (anything below 5-7% weekly growth) - You and your lead partner will figure out why you're not growing faster, why and discuss other things to try.

Because office hours happen every week, you get a pretty quick feedback loop where you can figure out what is or isn't working, come up with 2-3 things to work on the next week, get learnings and then repeat the process. By the end of each office hours, you'd have an action plan where you either (1) keep your growth going fast or (2) change your growth trajectory.

Office Hours Are Unique

While that's the typical agenda, no two companies will have the same office hours. Office hours are highly-tailored to the company by design. Every startup is unique, and therefore, has a specific set of problems and needs that require nuanced help. We work with each startup on whatever their most pressing problem is - and that looks different for each company.

We've heard founders tell us before that they're too ‘late stage’ for Iterative, but that's not often the case. We've worked with seed stage companies in the past, where we helped the founders build an organisation, identify new growth channels and get them ready for Series A fundraising.

We believe the most helpful part of the program is office hours - so much so that we made a video about it. Watch it here:

To help you understand better, here are 8 things you probably didn't know about office hours. Hopefully this helps you understand what office hours is, and isn't, about.

8 Things You Didn't Know About Office Hours

1. Office Hours 🤝 High Productivity

Founders have told us office hours kept them focused, and were some of the most productive times at their startups. It's because there's a similar structure every week - you have to report on your metrics, what you executed on and learned, and what you're going to do next week. This process is repeated weekly for 3 months, which helps founders not only stay focused on the metrics that matter, but also helps them iterate faster.

2. Office Hours Keep Founders Accountable

Related to the above point - the weekly cadence keeps founders accountable. After all, a significant portion of the value of office hours is accountability. Having to get on a call, show and explain your results to someone who's been a founder every week makes you focus and face reality. It's similar to seeing a personal trainer every week - your trainer will quickly know if you're getting stronger (or not). Watch this short on how Office Hours helped Luc Loja, founder of Offramp Labs, on how office hours helped him become a better startup founder.

3. Founders Set More Ambitious Goals After Office Hours

This is where the coach analogy comes into play - a coach pushes you to be more ambitious. Charles Lee, the founder of CoderSchool, shared with us: “I told Hsu Ken I wanted to double my initial goal target, and Hsu Ken shook his head and said that's still too low.” Charles and Hsu Ken eventually agreed on a more ambitious goal, but Charles didn't think it was possible at all. He was nervous. But by the end of the program, he hit the goal. Founders tend to be conservative when setting targets, but having someone outside of your startup tell you otherwise helps you unlock the limiting belief so many founders set on themselves.

4. Office Hours Keep Founders on the Right Path

Having done hundreds of office hours, we notice that what founders tell us are their biggest problems, are often not their biggest problems. It's similar to an injury - where you feel pain is almost always not the root cause of it. Visiting Partners like Aaron Yip and Dayana Yermolayeva shared that this is where office hours with partners can be helpful. All General or Visiting Partners have gone through what you're going through, so they're able to point you in the right direction, which in turn, sets you on the right path.

5. Rate of Learning Is Crucial

We noticed the founders with a high rate of learning significantly outperform those that have a slow rate of learning. The high rate of learning founders will do what they said they were going to do the previous week, be prepared to talk about what they learned and have a shortlist of things to do next week already. The other founders will show up and say they don't know why they're not hitting their goals, or worse, come up with excuses.

6. Contradicting Advice Is Expected

Office hours are an opportunity for successful founders to work closely with you on your startup - and when you join the program, you're welcome to book office hours with more than one General or Visiting Partners. If you do, it's almost always true that you'll get contradicting advice. And that's completely normal. There's no way one to win the race, and no other founder has the same experience. In fact, we encourage founders to book with multiple partners to get different opinions.

7. Founders Don't Have To Listen to Us

With all said and done, we make it clear to founders at the start of the batch: You're not obligated to listen to our advice. And no, there is no catch and we won't take back the money. The advice from the General or Visiting Partners at office hours is exactly that - a piece of advice for you to consider. At the end of the day, it's your company, and you have agency to make the final call.

8. Getting Upset Is More Common Than You Think

Every batch, there's 1 or 2 office hours where a founder will cry. Being a founder is difficult and the program will push you to be more aggressive and move faster. Often the thing holding back early stage startups is actually the founder so you will often get personal direct feedback. That can be tough for anyone to hear.

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