Office Hours 101: Three Questions to Ask every Startup

Startup office hours provides and opportunity for novice and veteran entrepreneurs alike to come together to ask questions, share advice, network, and collaborate with entrepreneurial peers. Most office hours are informal, open discussion between founders, experienced entrepreneurs, engineers, investors, lawyers, and anyone else interested in the startup world.

Even though office hours are intended to help entrepreneurs and startups, nine times out of ten, entrepreneurs and startups are solicited by the individual(s) hosting office hours.

With that said, I wanted to offer three questions (I think) one should ask an entrepreneur or startup during office hours, whether it be at an incubator, accelerator or co-working space:

1. What are you working on?

This is an important question for many reasons.  First, it helps the entrepreneur or startup clearly articulate their product or service.  Remember, at the end of the day, you might be a user.  Or maybe you know a potential user.  It’s critical that entrepreneurs and startups clearly articulate their vision – more importantly, their value proposition to their users or customers.

2.  What do you need?

This questions is as equally important as the first question.  Entrepreneurs and startups needs introductions to resources – developers, strategic partners, beta users, investors, engineers.  Consider individuals or organizations in your personal or professional network that you could potentially connect the entrepreneur or startup to.  Facilitating connections and introductions can help an entrepreneur or startup meet the right resources needed to grow their business.

3.  How can I help?

Expect nothing in return during office hours – give before you get.  Offer to help the entrepreneur or startup and don’t expect to receive anything in return.  Not tomorrow.  Not five years from now.  Develop a ‘give first’ mentality and it will come back to you ten fold.  If you tell an entrepreneur or a startup you will make an introduction to someone in your network, do it.  Follow up, follow up, follow up.

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