Welcome S21 Visiting Group Partners

Every batch, we invite founders and executives to advise YC companies as Visiting Group Partners. These advisors bring valuable insights and recent operational experience to YC early stage companies. Throughout the batch, they take on a subset of YC Group Partner responsibilities, including application reading, interviews, group office hours, individual office hours, demo day prep, and more.

We have five Visiting Group Partners joining us for the YC Summer 2021 batch. Welcome back, Reshma Khilnani, Surbhi Sarna, and Nicolas Dessaigne — (more about these founders turned visiting group partners here), and welcome to Diana Hu and Calvin French-Owen.

Diana Hu
Diana was co-founder and CTO of Escher Reality (YC S17), an Augmented Reality Backend company that was acquired by Niantic (makers of Pokémon Go). At Niantic, she was the head of the AR platform. Previously, she led data science at OnCue TV that was sold to Verizon. Originally from Chile, Diana graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a BS and MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a focus in computer vision and machine learning.

Why did you decide to become a Visiting Group Partner?
I love learning about tech and helping companies get off the ground. Joining YC as a Visiting Group Partner is the best of both worlds. I look forward to supporting and also learning from all the companies throughout the batch.

What are you looking forward to most as a Visiting Group Partner?
“We choose to go to the moon” is what it feels like working with founders at YC. In particular, having worked in AR, we had to invent a lot of tech to make things work, so I strongly relate and look forward to working with founders tackling all sorts of hard tech problems.

Also having grown up in Chile, I have a soft spot for founders making things that people want and need in their home countries outside the US. The impact can be tremendous in their local economies. I am really excited that going virtual in the coming batch lets tons of international companies participate. This way international companies can learn and grow like bay areas companies while staying close to their local users. And on the flip side, we can learn from them.

Calvin French-Owen
Calvin was the co-founder and CTO of Segment, until it was acquired by Twilio for 3.2B in November 2020. Prior to that, he studied CS at MIT. When not helping startups, Calvin is running around the hills of San Francisco, training for the next ultramarathon.

Why did you decide to become a Visiting Group Partner?
In November, I left Segment to start a “reading period” and learn about a bunch of new fields. When the opportunity to join as a Visiting Group Partner popped up, it felt like a great way to expose myself to a huge number of new fields and experiences.

More than anything, I like working with early stage founders. I’m hoping to help share some of the wisdom we learned at Segment the hard way! 🙂

What are you looking forward to most as a Visiting Group Partner?
Two main things: The first is working with a bunch of people who are just incredibly optimistic about the future. I love the enthusiasm and energy that you find at YC, in both the founders and the partners.

Additionally, I’m excited to learn about a huge number of industries. At Segment, we went very deep on many aspects of developer tooling, enterprise software, and solving data infrastructure problems at scale. But I didn’t get as much first-hand exposure to all sorts of other businesses: hardware, marketplaces, consumer apps, etc. I’m excited to see the hundreds of companies in the coming batch and learn as much (or more!) from them as they will from me!

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