“On Deck helped me raise $750k for my startup, 1v1Me, but then we raised an additional $1.25M a month or two later. Now, my foot is on the gas scaling 1v1Me 24/7. However, what I will say is I always make time for On Deck.”
Anthony Geranio is the founder of 1v1Me, an app that lets anyone gamble on their ability to win in a player versus player game. He came up with the idea with his co-founder, Alex Emmanuel, at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, when their friend group started betting against one another while playing video games.
1v1Me raised a $2M pre-seed round, following Anthony’s On Deck fellowship.
Why it worked:
The structure of On Deck forced me to focus. There is no homework, and you don't have to show up to every session. However, you do get access to a calendar with daily events and a Slack community and directory of fellows at your disposal.
It's very much a "world is your oyster" type experience. You get in what you put in, and it forced me to realize that there are a ton of people that can help me in various different ways in this community, and I need to figure out how to leverage it.
Through video sessions, I learned fundamentals of how to build a company, like GTM strategy, fundraising, great storytelling from some of the best people in the industry. Hearing from other people that have started successful businesses or were in venture already was an awesome indication of where I needed to go and what I needed to do in order to make it.
In business school, you often learn from a professor and while a lot of professors' backgrounds are impressive, they’re more teachers than they are entrepreneurs. The people you learn from in On Deck have been there, done that, and are currently doing that. You’re interacting with them during a 60-minute session the bulk of their time is spent on building a company, or funding other great ones.
What makes the On Deck community different:
On Deck is real. The people in it care, they aren't just in it to benefit themselves—they want to see you win.
I think that in other accelerators or programs you are fighting directly for funding or success and a lot of times there are companies who might be direct or adjacent competitors involved in the same cohort with you. On Deck felt more like you were competing alongside everyone else to reach your goals together, not quicker than someone else. I talked to countless fellows about their hopes, dreams, and struggles. People were so vulnerable and open to admitting when they didn't have it all figured out, even though their career track record would assume they did.
The most important thing he learned during his On Deck fellowship:
On Deck helped me craft the message around my fundraise and gave me a lot of direction around my pitch deck and how I should improve on it before going to investors.
They also hooked me up with their First Look program, which allowed me to "date" other investors in their angel fellowship program and get feedback, without the pressure that they may actually invest in my company. This helped me get an inside look into an investors head and what they think I should have improved on before going wider.
When I was prepared to go to a wider group of investors, On Deck made several different introductions for me either directly or through their name brand alone.
Advice for incoming fellows:
The best advice I can give to new On Deck fellows is just be real, vulnerable, and meet as many people as possible. On Deck wrote me the first check, but I wasn't looking for it. I didn't go into On Deck with the goal to fundraise, but I ended On Deck having fundraised. That was all because of the people I met, and the conversations I was having with them.
I booked time with every fellow that I thought I could have an interesting conversation with and wasn't just booking time to talk to someone with the expectation that they could change my life, or I could get an intro out of them.
On the flip side, I also offered a ton of help myself. I constantly participated in sessions and followed up with people that needed help with product demos, marketing ideas, design advice, and more. I treated the program like a full-time job, bouncing between sessions and conversations with different fellows, trying to help as many people as I could tactically.
When I was in On Deck, it wasn't all about me and 1v1Me, it was about helping the community.
Life after On Deck:
After On Deck, my life got busier.
On Deck helped me raise $750k for my startup, 1v1Me, but then we raised an additional $1.25M a month or two later. Now, my foot is on the gas scaling 1v1Me 24/7. However, what I will say is I always make time for On Deck.
Every week, I get a new message from someone new to On Deck in the Slack community that everyone is allowed access into for the lifetime of On Deck even after your fellowship ends, and always make time to respond to fellows that might need advice. I still have a lot of close friends that came out of On Deck that I talk to and catch up with regularly.
“It is a total understatement to say that it changed my life. I've made very, very close and hopefully lifelong friends through this, which is amazing.”
Natasja Nielsen and Shrav Mehta
“We were able to get quick feedback on what we needed to change, or what was going well—some of our initial customers were from the On Deck community who were running into problems that Secureframe could solve. That was super helpful for our progress.”