The numbers speak for themselves...
The first ODF cohort kicked off in June, 2019
Over 180 companies founded by Fellows in the first three cohorts
Nearly $100M raised in Pre-Seed/Seed funding during ODF
From investors including...
On Deck Fellowship
The On Deck Fellowship (ODF) is a 10-week program that creates incredible community around a cohort of experienced founders & talented individuals in the formative stages of starting a company.
Meet co-founders, early hires, and accelerate through the early days of building a company.
Boris de Souza
Cheryl Sew Hoy
David J. Phillips
Who is it for?
Fellows typically fall into two broad categories, which we’ve taken to calling “Explorers” and “Builders.”
- You have the skills and plan to start a company, but aren’t exactly sure yet what you want to build, or who to build it with.
- Deep dive with experts in industries such as fintech, biotech, consumer, and participate in "request for startup" sessions with leading investors.
- Tactical programming designed to support co-founder dating and idea validation.
- You know what you're building, but are early in the journey, maybe you're filling out your founding team.
- Tap the community to accelerate progress: user interviews, customer introduction, or access the collective knowledge base
- Focus on tactical knowledge and skills – covering topics from SEO to forecasting, recruiting to fundraising.
The On Deck Angel Fellowship
The On Deck Angel Fellowship (ODA) is an 8-week program inspired by the success of the On Deck Founder Fellowship.
ODA is designed to accelerate groups of experienced operators and founders along the path to becoming a successful angel investor, helping build co-investor networks, hone skills, and broaden their knowledge of trends and markets.
OD Angels will get exclusive deal-flow from the On Deck Fellowship, with the opportunity to participate in community events, attend pitch days, and more.
The first On Deck Angel Academy cohort kicks off in mid September — Applications close Aug 16th.
What’s In Store
Projects + Ideas
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
The On Deck Fellowship is an invite-only 10-week program, designed to bring the very best talent from across the On Deck network together to connect over a series of digital gatherings, 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 have several cohorts per year. For more information, see our ODF5 announcement post
It can be helpful to think of ODF less as a “10-week finite program” and more as joining a lifetime community. The 10 week program is your onboarding, which we do in cohorts to aid the smooth transition.
Joining the ODF community costs $1,790 if paid upfront, or $500 per month over 4 months.
We believe great founders don’t need funding to get started building a company. Indeed, many in our community come from high paying senior engineering and product roles, and/or have had past success as founders — people for whom personal runway is no problem — but giving away equity too early doesn’t make sense.
The fee covers:
1) 10-weeks with hundreds of hours of live programming and curriculum.
2) Lifetime access to the online community Slack and access to the On Deck Directory. Nearly 40% of ODF1-3 alumni have been active daily on Slack during ODF4.
3) Access to the content library and archive
5) $50k+ worth of value from our partners (i.e. $10k AWS credits, $20k Stripe credits, and discounts with 40+ products/services you’ll actually want to use)
Our goal is to make the Fellowship accessible to the absolute best talent, no matter what their situation.
While many eligible applicants do have the means to support themselves, many others don’t. We’re excited to be able to offer scholarships to join the Fellowship, and have made a budget available to people who have been adversely affected by COVID layoffs and startup shutdowns.
We also have a number of fully sponsored places available thanks to the generosity of alumni and partners, and are working on other options to provide further assistance to those without means to support themselves.
There are no fees to apply so please submit an application to be considered for the fellowship — you’ll have the option to request financial assistance if you receive an offer to join ODF5 or 6.
We’ll be announcing a new “Convertible ISA” option shortly (sneak peek here)
You're in luck! It can be helpful to think of ODF less as a “10-week finite program” and more as joining a lifetime community. The 10 week program is your onboarding, which we do in cohorts to aid the smooth transition.
After the 10 weeks, there's plenty to participate in – so don't stress about cramming everything in all at once. The community will still be there for you 3, 6 or 12+ months down the road, with your continued access to many of the top resources.
As new cohorts join, you'll get to meet everyone who's in it, and be able to engage directly.
Some people compare the impact to doing an MBA at a top college, which can cost $100-200k. Others compare it to accelerators such as YC, which “cost” a lot more in equity or opportunity cost terms.
We routinely see fellows who have the trajectory of their careers change, carve months off their “ideation” processes, and raise more capital at better valuations through participating in the fellowship.
You’re welcome to ask them! Visit the On Deck Wall of Love (with a few specific examples here and here)
The Fellowship is geared towards those looking to start companies. Outside of that, we built Via, a referral-based hiring platform where top talent can request introductions to companies they're interested in.
Since cohort 3 the On Deck Fellowship has gone entirely digital, with stronger engagement and NPS than ever before. Last cohort we had Fellows participate from 18 different countries. Read more in our ODF4 announcement post.
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.
We’ve developed a framework for assessing candidates on at least one of the following:
1) Experienced operator
Previously founded or was an early employee of a notably successful company, and is now moving on to a 2nd/3rd/etc venture.
2) Technical excellence
Has deep technical experience (2–3 years+ as an engineer with reputable technology companies), and/or has been recognized as a research leader within applicable technology fields (e.g. machine learning, STEM).
3) Product leadership
Has held senior roles at notable companies, and can point to examples of products they’ve built/scaled to hundreds of thousands of people.
4) Industry insight
Worked in X industry for Y years, and has in doing so developed some unique insights or unfair advantages they possess vs. all others.
5) Wildcard / raw entrepreneurial potential
None of the above, but stands out from the crowd based on initiative taken, side-projects, community contributions, and more.
Finally, perhaps the most important question of the interview: does this Fellow come with a spirit of service, and what will they contribute to the community?
Our screening criteria starts with: “do we think this person is fully committed to starting a company in the next 3 months.
We heavily prioritize those that are early along in the process. Some may have a few ideas floating around, others may be looking for co-founders, and most haven’t started fundraising.
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.
Historically, roughly 40% came into the fellowship with a specific idea but were open to changing, 35% were openly exploring or looking to latch onto others' ideas, and 25% had some initial MVP/prototype or were getting ready to fundraise.
Roughly 200 world-class people from all over the world.
In addition to the upcoming cohort, we have an Alumni community of 700+ founders (and growing) that we love to keep engaged with the community and to have opportunities to interact with the new cohort.
Unlike accelerators where a bigger batch size often correlates to a poorer experience, the fellowship behaves in quite the opposite: since most fellows join while still in the pre-team phase, there's more liquidity in the talent pool to find potential collaborators, and more collective knowledge and expertise to tap for specialized breakouts or advice.
We're entirely digital so you can be based anywhere and participate.
We believe that it has never been more important to be deeply connected in San Francisco, but never less important to actually build your company here. During the program you'll be deeply immersed in SF tech even if you're halfway around the world!
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.
On Deck lives by four core guiding values, crucial to the culture we strive to foster in the community:
- Service: On Deck is bigger than any one person. This community thrives because it is driven by a spirit of service to others. Be generous with your time, knowledge, and support. Karma has a way of finding its way back.
- Sacredness: By default, everything is off the record. Many in this community are searching for something deeper in their lives or making big transitions, and others may not yet have publicly shared this with friends, family, or employers. Please honor that, and avoid sharing anything you learn about each other without explicit permission.
- Respect: Have a spirit of curiosity and gratitude. We’re bringing together 150 fascinating people, most of whom likely have never met each other…how amazing is that? Get to know each other, and make the cohort what you want it to be for yourself
- Gratitude: If accepted to the Fellowship, you will become part of the On Deck family. You’re all embarking on what will surely be a rollercoaster of a journey – but you’re in this shared experience together. With that comes a sense of responsibility: be inclusive, stick together, and respect one another.