Surround yourself with 100 of the best founders at the earliest stage
The On Deck Fellowship builds community around a cohort of founders that are in the formative stages of starting a company through a series of dinners, retreats, workshops, coworking days, and 1:1 intros to experts, mentors and cohort alumni.
Next batch begins in October. Applications are open until September 22nd.
What is it?
On Deck emerged out of a need for talented people to have a safe space to talk about their ideas and desire to start a company, freely and confidentially. So much goes into successfully launching a company, and we wanted to create a thoughtfully curated community that truly supports the growth of entrepreneurs and their startups.
The On Deck Fellowship is an 8-week program that brings together a group of founders from the broader On Deck community on a weekly basis to work alongside one another on their startup ideas. In addition we connect On Deck Fellows with mentors, experts, and investors in various industries via a series of 1:1 introductions, dinner events, hack days, and an exclusive online community with the current cohort and past alumni.
Full Group Events
Our full-cohort events exist to bring everyone together:
Dinners & Happy Hours – socialize, participate in small-group breakout discussions, and have interesting conversations with all of the other fellows.
Kick-off Retreat – escape the city life & get to know the cohort at an all-day event in a venue a few hours outside of San Francisco (optional overnight)
Alumni Mixers – opportunity for current cohort to get to know past cohorts of ODF alumni.
Smaller, themed dinners to make it easier to connect with like-minded founders. Tracks include:
Meet 1:1 with fellows in the cohort & broader On Deck community
Fellowship Directory – access the ODF directory with all fellows+alumni and their info – request intros to anyone, and we’ll facilitate the double opt-in
“Top 10” – a personalized shortlist given to every fellow at the start of the program with the 10 people amongst the cohort that we think are most aligned with your objectives
Round-robin – optional intro every week for those looking for a higher volume of 1:1 conversations
Learning & Tactical Tips
Learn from, seek advice, or get feedback from experts
Office hours – opportunity to book 1:1 slots with a variety of VC/Angel investors, serial founders, executives, & other fellows in the cohort
Workshops / Fireside Chats – a series of exclusive programming with some of the highest profile founders & leaders in tech
Collaboration & Accountability
Take advantage of being surrounded by resources & others at similar stages for mutual accountability and collaborating
Co-working space – access to flexible co-working space at least 1x/week to jam on ideas, strategize, and get feedback (option to pay small monthly fee for full-time access).
Hack Days – hackathon-style events to provide an environment to crank out new prototypes, team up with others, and rapidly bring an idea to life.
“Squads” - to help make a big group feel smaller, you’ll be assigned a small group of 8-12 people at the start of the fellowship based on whatever stage you’re at. Your squad will meet regularly, help each other with feedback/accountability, and become close friends.
Showcase Day – an opportunity to pitch your idea/MVP to the cohort & ODF Alumni for additional support and feedback.
We are excited to team up with some of the greatest experts & leaders of the tech world for this upcoming cohort.
Last Cohort – Summary
Skillset Distribution (%)
Stage of Fellows at Program Start
Previous Cohort – Alumni Spotlight
Get referred to breakout companies.
Via is a referral-based hiring product dedicated to helping people find and get intros to the hottest startups.
Many of the best hires come from trusted referrals.
Via is a referral-based hiring tool designed to help talent connect with “trusted referrers”, or “Connectors.” Today, we have 200 of the world’s best investors making referrals to their portfolio companies, with more on-boarding every day.
With Via, we hope to streamline & boost the amount of referrals that people are able to make, and thus the new opportunities candidates are able to find. As a candidate looking for open roles, you can browse, filter, and search for specific companies/investors.
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Reach out to us! We’d love to help surface various opportunities we think may be aligned.
Companies we love…
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any questions, hopefully we’ve answered them below. If not, email us at email@example.com – we’ll get back to you right away.
What do you do?
On Deck is a global, invite-only community aimed at equipping our members with the network, tools and resources to unlock their full potential and thrive in their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Over the years, we have become masters of engineered serendipity. We have continued to fine tune our events and community culture to create an environment that's conducive to deep bonding, brainstorming, and collaboration.
What’s the goal of On Deck?
Starting a company is hard. And worse, the lack of adequate resources and infrastructure available at this formative stage makes it even harder.
The goal of On Deck is to help amazing people that are "on deck" for their next thing find the following:
- First hires
- Startup tools and resources
- Confidentially brainstorm and bounce ideas off of each other
- Exclusive advice from top-tier investors and entrepreneurs
- Referrals to job opportunities at early stage breakout startups
Who should join?
You should join the On Deck community:
1 - if you’re considering founding a company in the next 6 months, or if you’ve recently started on this path but you're still early on
2 - if you’d like to apply your unique talents to joining a high caliber startup
3 - if you have deep subject matter expertise and a track record of success, where you'd like to mentor or advise early stage entrepreneurs
What if I want to join a company instead of start one?
This is the perfect place to meet people looking to hire, both for small and big companies.
We also recently built Via, a referral-based hiring platform where top talent can request introductions to companies they're interested in.
Where are your events located?
In-person events are currently being hosted across the United States: San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and Boulder. We’ve also gone international with active communities in London, New Delhi, and Tel Aviv. We’re intentionally keeping each community small to create tight-knit groups of founders and ensure confidentiality.
What if my company finds out?
First, your name will be completely confidential and there will be a strict off the record policy. And don’t worry: A few great founders/investors will be attending dinners as "advisors," so if you get caught, you can just say you’re there to "advise.” We'll cover for you.
Will anyone else know that I’ve joined?
Participation is held in strict confidence. Even if you’re happy to share, you are requested to respect the privacy of other members who aren’t ready to make their plans public.
How do you assess candidates?
We’ve developed a framework for assessing candidates on at least one of the following:
- Raw entrepreneurial potential and network
- Previously founded or was early generalist employee of a notably successful company, and is now moving on to a 2nd/3rd/etc venture.
- Technical excellence
- Has advanced degree and/or recognized as a research leader within applicable technology fields (e.g. machine learning, STEM).
- Product leadership
- Held senior roles at notable companies, and can point to examples of products they’ve built/scaled to hundreds of thousands of people.
- Industry experience
- Worked in X industry for Y years, and has developed + can speak to unique insights or unfair advantage they possess vs. all others.
- Exceptional promise
- None of the above, but shows exceptional promise and has referral/reference from a trusted source.
What is the On Deck Fellowship?
The On Deck Fellowship is an invite-only 8-week program, designed to bring the very best talent from across the On Deck network together to connect over a series of dinners, co-working days, expert workshops, 1:1 introductions, and more.
The goal of the Fellowship is ultimately to help more people build better companies by forming stronger, better aligned founding teams; fast-tracking early hires; and helping founders construct a community around themselves at the very earliest stages.
We aim to have several cohorts per year. For more information, see our announcement post
What stage are members typically at?
We feel the formative stages of a company are the most critical, and that they set the foundation and trajectory for the journey ahead. We want to ensure founders at this early stage have the adequate resources and infrastructure they need to succeed.
What does it cost? What do I get as a participant?
The 8-week Fellowship costs $990.
We aren't an investor - we don't charge equity (which is much more expensive), or make you take our money once you graduate. We're a startup too, and aim to cover our costs first and foremost.
Charging for participation allows us to keep the wheels turning, to allocate full-time resources towards managing operations, contributes to the cost of the all-day kick-off retreat and wrap up event, 10+ dinners, hackathons, co-working, and expert workshops/fireside chats you get access to as a Fellow.
We also believe that each participant having some "skin in the game" encourages them to make the most out of their investment; to be present and engaged with the community and opportunities that come their way - this was certainly the case in Fellowship #1, with tremendously high engagement levels throughout the program.
Our goal is to make the Fellowship accessible to the absolute best talent around. Because we know not everyone has a spare $990 lying around, we're excited to be able to offer assistance to those who have all the skills and potential, but don't have the means. You can indicate your interest in this option when you apply, and we'll work with you to help the best we can.
I’m not looking to start a company in the next 6 months, should I still join?
Thanks for being upfront. The community works best when members are all at similar stages of planning to found a company or transition into something new in the immediate future. If you think you’ll be a bit longer, come back once you feel the timing is right.
Can I host On Deck in my city?
Drop us a line via firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous Event Partners
On Deck functions on the generosity of our event partners, who volunteer their office space, help cover costs such as food and drinks, and refer us top talent. Interested in being an event partner? Drop us a line via email@example.com!