“But where I get the most value is the community sessions or following someone’s thread on Slack and then reaching out to them directly. Everyone is so willing to share their time and expertise. That’s huge.”
Background: Founder and CEO, Avra Talent | Author, Going Remote

Maren Kate is an entrepreneur who’s been focused on remote-first companies for a long time (before it was mandatory!). While at On Deck, she launched goingremote.com, which she describes as “the ultimate guide to finding and landing a fully remote job you’ll love.” Previously, she was a founding partner at AvraTalent.com. She also was the co-founder of Zirtual.com, which was acquired by Startups.co in 2015. 

She also was the COO of Roam, a co-living space, and the interim COO of Calm. 

Why Maren joined On Deck:

A friend of mine—an entrepreneur who had been involved in some of the earlier cohorts—encouraged me to join. I was chatting with him about where I was, what I was thinking about next. He suggested that I check out On Deck.

It was one of those things where I was like, you know, I might as well check it out. I listened to a few of the testimonials. Read a little bit about the program, but my friend’s suggestion is what held weight with me. It seemed like an interesting thing to try. I'd been part of a startup incubator in maybe 2010 in the Bay Area. It had been about a decade and I was curious about what these new iterations were like. 

What Maren’s been working on:

I’m on my third company. I’ve always built fully remote companies—before it was even a thing. I’m mostly in the recruiting/services arena. I built one of the first virtual executive assistant platforms, back in 2010. A few years ago, I also launched a remote recruiting boutique firm that focused solely on helping companies scale remotely.

What I was noodling on when I came to On Deck was a project that I started during COVID called Going Remote.

My thesis for a long time has been that the hiring methodology and practice doesn’t do a good job of matching people and opportunities. But I'd always approached this problem from the business-to-business standpoint; I think most people do. There's a lot of recruiting tech, there's a lot of investment and startups trying to fix the “hiring is broken” problem. I decided I wanted to approach it from a candidate-centric standpoint. 

So how can we serve the professional and help give them the tools and techniques and understanding to understand what they're best at and then market themselves in and run the hiring process from there?

In the last eight weeks, I've been able to not only refine my idea, but really get a just a boots on the ground understanding of go-to-market and grow strategy, which is something I’ve never understood very well. So On Deck has been very helpful.

What surprises her the most about On Deck:

I think what surprises me the most is the quality of the fellows. Everyone is seasoned, whether it’s as an entrepreneur or an operator or an engineer. Everyone just has really solid experience. 

Second, people’s readiness and willingness to be helpful also surprises me. That, hands down, is the biggest takeaway for me. I enjoy the community sessions—they’re phenomenal. I enjoy the founder fundamentals, too. But where I get the most value is the community sessions or following someone’s thread on Slack and then reaching out to them directly. Everyone is so willing to share their time and expertise. That’s huge. 

The most memorable part of On Deck:

Just a few days ago, I was talking to someone about paid acquisition channels—Facebook, other stuff. He gave me feedback, he was like, “I can tell you how to do all this stuff, but the first thing you need to think of is, is your product priced in a way that paid advertising will even make sense?” He walked me through this formula to understand whether I’d make or lose money based on metrics. That was super, super simple, but a game changer. I realized that I had priced the product too low. That five-minute conversation completely reset the way I was thinking about my product and probably saved me thousands of dollars testing and losing on performance marketing.

What On Deck gave Maren as a repeat founder:

Part of what attracted to me to On Deck is that my background has always been very remote.

When you build remote teams and run remote companies, it can be slightly isolating. I’ve been in Manhattan for the last four years and was in San Francisco before that. Especially with COVID, being quarantined, I felt like as a solo founder… I really wanted a bunch of peers who were at a similar stage. The idea of having that peer-to-peer network and having collaborators was really attractive.

What advice she’d give new On Deck fellows:

Before you start, decide on a goal. That can either be—“I’m super open, I just want to explore as many opportunities as possible.” Or it could be something a little more specific, like, “I have always been weaker and avoided growth in sales and marketing and I want to learn the basics of that skill set.” Understanding what success looks like, even before you start, is really important, because then you can map your journey based on what you want to accomplish.

It’s important to be able to say no to about 80% of the opportunities, and yes to the 20% that really matter to you and what you’re looking for. On the flipside of that, be clear on what you can give, too. The give and take are what makes the community so valuable.

Other Alumni

Maren Kate
Founder: Founder and CEO, Avra Talent | Author, Going Remote
“But where I get the most value is the community sessions or following someone’s thread on Slack and then reaching out to them directly. Everyone is so willing to share their time and expertise. That’s huge.”
Ann Ferracane
Patch Ventures
Founder: Founder Patch Ventures | Former Director of Growth, East Coast at Lyft
"They understand that organic and iterative connection is where the magic happens."
Nishant Aggrawal
Founder, NOMAWO
Founder: Founder, NOMAWO
“I was blown away by the quality of the members, the other founders in my cohort and overall in the community, all the events, how everyone worked hard to pay it forward, and to the whole On Deck team for making it happen. They literally redefined the meaning of community for me.”