Visiting Partners

Visiting Partners

Hsu Ken Ooi
May 18, 2022

Last batch (Winter 2022), in addition to Brian and I, we experimented with having our good friend, Zaizhuang Cheng (Co-Founder of Spin, acquired by Ford), as a visiting partner. He hosted his own office hours, worked with companies in group office hours and helped companies prepare for Demo Day.

It went so well we’re formalizing the role for future batches and making a call for people interested in being a visiting partner.

What does a visiting partner do?

A visiting partner has 3 primary responsibilities.

  • Host Office Hours – Office hours are weekly 1 hour sessions between a partner and the founders of a company. The goal of the session is to help the founders identify and solve their most pressing problem (we call it debugging). These are booked weekly through Calendly.
  • Attend Group Office Hours – Every other week, multiple partners meet with a handful of companies. These are designed to have founders learn from other founders, see what’s working and not working for other companies and get perspective by hearing about other companies. Visiting partners will attend a subset of group office hours and lend their experience as topics come up.
  • Help Prepare for Demo Day – The last month of the program is focused on preparing for Demo Day via our Fundraising Boot Camp. Visiting partners will work with a subset of companies on their pitch.

The time commitment can be scaled up or down depending on how much time a visiting partner has. If they have more time, they can work with more companies (host more office hours, attend more group office hours, etc.). Similarly if they have less time.

What we look for in a visiting partner?

A visiting partner has the following experience.

  • Been a Founder – Must have been a founder before. A core tenet of Iterative is being a founder is such a unique experience, if you haven’t been a founder it’s hard to empathize. If it’s hard to empathize, it’s harder to help.
  • Series A or Later – Their startup must have reached Series A or later. We aren’t as concerned with the ultimate outcome of the startup. There’s plenty of amazing founders, with a lot to teach, who didn’t sell their company or go public. Since most of the companies in our program raise their Seed Round at Demo Day, we think it’s helpful for partners to have experience with at least 1 stage beyond that.
  • Not Currently Operating – Although the time commitment can be scaled up or down, we don’t think someone who’s currently operating has sufficient headspace to work with our companies. The best case scenario is a former founder who’s trying to figure out what to do next and wants to help other founders.

There’s obviously nuance with each of these so if you’re not sure if you have the right experience, please reach out.

Why be a visiting partner?

There’s a couple reasons why someone might want to be a visiting partner.

  • Help Founders – Having now worked with 100+ founders, helping founders is easily the most rewarding (and challenging) part of the role. I helped founders on an ad-hoc basis in the past but doing it as part of a 3 month program significantly increased how much I’m able to help and deepened the relationship with founders.
  • Be Part of the Community – The founder community in Southeast Asia can be a little fragmented (different languages, countries, etc.). If you want broader exposure to what’s going on, who’s doing what and friends in every country, this is a good way to get it.
  • Carry – All visiting partners will receive a share of our funds carry (profit from our investments) for that year. Hopefully not the primary factor but we want to align incentives so visiting partners have “skin in the game.”

If you have questions or interested in talking about being visiting partner, please email me (

The newsletter that helps 4,000+ other founders in their journey

Iterative Insights is a monthly newsletter on startups, growth, fundraising, and anything else that stresses you out as a founder.