Making the Most of Office Hours

At Innovation Works, we believe that the startup ecosystem should and can be inclusive of all. Therefore, we provide guidance to founders navigating this ecosystem. At Open Office Hours, entrepreneurs can ask ques­tions, get ad­vice, and be introduced to our broad network.

If you are an entrepreneur, an entrepreneur in the making, a college student, a member of the community with a great idea, or just plain inquisitive, Innovation Works’ Office Hours are a resource for you to utilize, for free!

Innovation Works’ portfolio executives and COO share their advice for entrepreneurs who plan to take advantage of open office hours.

Jim Jen, COO & Managing Director, Software & AlphaLab

My advice to entrepreneurs for office hour meetings are to be clear upfront on what they’d like to get out of the meeting and to manage the discussion accordingly. I usually start by asking “What would you like from this meeting” and let the conversation flow. The challenge with most office hour formats (which can range from 10–30 minutes) is that it doesn’t necessarily allow for a deep-dive conversation so focusing on 1 or 2 specific items or questions helps manage the conversation.

Afshan Khan, Portfolio Executive

The best way to make the most of Office Hours is to:

  • Do your homework in advance — research our website, backgrounds, portfolio companies, programs, and resources before you come to Office Hours, so the standard questions don’t take up precious time to ask, and you can delve deeper into understanding what IW can provide.
  • Ask questions — you can gain a lot by having your questions ready so that you can get all the answers.
  • Prepare in advance — if you have a summary of your idea and what assistance you are looking for, feel free to send it along with your request to book Office Hours — we are happy to look at it in advance and provide feedback!

These pointers can help you make the most of Office Hours, and remember, don’t be afraid to engage Innovation Works on any entrepreneurial ideas, no matter how early you are!

Jim Wrubel, Portfolio Executive

The best part of my job is helping prospective entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds see themselves as founders, and helping them develop their concepts. So even if you’ve never thought of yourself as a founder, I encourage you to apply!

It’s important to note that just having an idea for a product isn’t enough; you need to have some idea of how to develop it and how to find customers. Innovation Works can support you, but this is your journey. So do come to the meeting with a clear description of what you have built (or are working to build) and a plan for finding customers and developing your market.

Jeff McDaniel, Portfolio Executive

To Jim [Jen]’s point, be as prepared as you can, but we do not expect to cover everything in 30 minutes. You do not have to have all the answers in your first meeting.


Ilana Diamond, Managing Director, Hardware & Alphalab Gear

Do you need introductions to potential customers? Would it be useful to have info on other companies that are using a similar technology to yours? Are you looking for partners? I tell entrepreneurs that the goal of a first office hours meeting is to help me understand their business and let me know how I can be helpful.

If you have a list of people that you want to be connected to — bring it to our meeting! Then make it easy to make introductions by following up with an email that briefly describes your company and explains why you want to be connected.



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Innovation Works

Innovation Works

Innovation Works is one of the nation’s most active seed funds. AlphaLab (AL), ALGear, and ALHealth are nationally ranked startup accelerator programs of IW.