Frequently Asked Questions
On Deck Fellowship - Schedule & Participant FAQ
If you have any questions, hopefully we’ve answered them below. If not, pop us a message via the chat box in the bottom corner, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll get back to you right away.
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.
A final shortlist of participants have been selected from over 1,000 applications, 4,000 On Deck past attendees and members, and hundreds of referrals from our broader networks.
Why a Fellowship?
We believe that the best people are almost always passively looking for their next thing.
We believe that, contrary to conventional wisdom, successful founding teams can meet randomly or even be matched, but are lacking relevant, contextual opportunities to do so.
Over the past three years thousands of people have connected with one another and shared ideas through confidential, intimate On Deck dinners, retreats and private gatherings. But sometimes, a few hours over dinner just isn’t enough.
We’ve designed the Fellowship to solve this. The 8-week program includes no fewer than 15 events.* Throughout, we’ll also be maintaining a private online community, and will make at least one direct introduction per week matching individuals with complementary goals, skills, and ambitions.
*don’t worry, you don’t have to attend them all!
Why should I join?
You should join the On Deck Fellowship if you’re considering founding a company in the next 6 months; if you’ve recently started on this path but not yet raised capital or built out your founding team; or if you’d like to apply your unique talents to joining a high caliber team near its inception.
Will anyone else know that I’ve joined?
Participation is held in strict confidence. Even if you’re happy to share, as with any On Deck event, you are requested to respect the privacy of other cohort members who aren’t ready to make their plans public.
What is the cost?
Why does it cost to join the Fellowship?
While many On Deck events have historically been free to attend, the Fellowship is a bit more operationally intensive.
Charging for participation allows us to keep the wheels turning, maintain alignment with Fellows, and provide a lot more value over and above the standard one-off events.
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 opportunities that come their way.
Our goal is to make the Fellowship accessible to the absolute best talent around, we’re excited to be able to offer scholarships to those who may not have the means. Read below for more details.
Couldn’t you cover your costs with sponsorships?
Relying solely on sponsorship from third parties risks having their priorities take precedence over those of our community. While we do have select partners sponsoring individual dinners, we are extremely careful about who we work with, and how they are allowed to interact with the Fellowship group.
Are there scholarships available?
Our goal is to make the Fellowship accessible to the absolute best talent around. While many in the group have had substantial financial success, others are on their first ventures and hustling their way through. If this price makes participation prohibitive, we have a handful of scholarships we’re looking forward to awarding to a few exceptional individuals.
Please let us know if you’re interested in applying for a scholarship, or sponsoring a place for another.
What type of time commitment is this?
On average, you should expect to commit a few hours per week. Depending on your participation in the various dinners, 1:1 meetings, and use of the weekly co-working space, this may vary. You’re free to decide how to best participate and how much time to invest in the program in order to maximize the value you get out of it.
What is the event schedule?
There are (at least) 14 events over the eight weeks, but you aren’t expected to attend all of them!
We may add additional events based on interest from you, and from our external partners, but the below are now confirmed
|1||Co-working Day #1||06/23|
|2||Co-working Day #2||06/26|
|3||~4th of July week~ casual gathering|
|4||Female Founder Dinner||07/9|
|4||Co-working Day #3||07/10|
|5||Co-working Day #4||07/21|
|6||Co-working Day #5||07/24|
|7||Co-working Day #6||08/4|
|8||Co-working Day #7||08/7|
|8||Closing Weekend Retreat||8/10 - 8/11|
How many people will be part of the Fellowship group?
We are willing to accept up to 100 participants in this first Fellowship cohort.
In reality, we’ll accept as few as we need to ensure a very high quality bar for participants, and are expecting between 60-80.
However, we will not compromise on participant quality for the sake of hitting this threshold – we expect the final cohort size to settle around 60-80 total.
Is the Fellowship right for me?
You should join the On Deck Fellowship if:
1 - You’re considering building a company in the next 6 months
2 - You’ve recently started on this path but not yet raised capital or built out your founding team
3 - if you’d like to apply your unique talents to joining a team near its inception.
4 - You’re are able to attend a significant portion of the events.
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 stage are fellowship cohort startups at?
We have heavily prioritized 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 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.
Do I have to be in San Francisco to join?
No – amazing talent is everywhere. However, we believe the opportunity to connect face-to-face and be offline together is crucial. So we prefer you are able to attend the kick-off event (June 15th), and would benefit from attending other events too. In the future, we hope to be able to provide some assistance to help exceptional people to join us.
Can I still participate if I can only join for part of it?
Yes. You should try to make the kick-off and wrap-up events at a minimum, but ultimately, the more you put in, the more you’ll get out of the fellowship.
Do I have to attend all the events?
No. We understand busy schedules and other commitments, and so certainly don’t expect you to attend every event. You’re free to decide how to best participate in order to maximize the value you get out of it.
What does a Fellowship dinner look like?
Weekly dinners will be held at a variety of different private residences, office spaces, and private dining rooms.
The format we’ve found most effective somewhat resembles an “unconference.” This includes:
- Drinks and light snacks as guests arrive;
- 2 - 4 small “breakout sessions” led by Fellowship members with particular expertise in various sectors.
- Dinner in a casual, small group setting to have fantastic conversations.
What does a Fellowship co-working day look like?
The On Deck Fellowship pop-up co-working day will be held at the office space of one of our Partners.
Some will take place in the after work hours in the evenings, and others will be on a weekend day in order to maximize opportunities for attendance.
We will run a series of co-working sprints with breaks to get to know each other and share ideas. Occasionally, our partners will bring in mentors with deep SME to collaborate with attendees.
Can I see who else is joining?
Once the Fellowship kicks off, we have a few tools and tricks to help you get acquainted with the other members while respecting everyone’s privacy.
Will you be investing in my Company?
No, On Deck does not invest in your company, nor take any equity, warrants, or other instruments. We do have lots of friends and partners who may like to invest in you, so definitely ask us about if you’re looking for investment!
I’m not looking to start a company in the next 6 months, should I still join?
Thanks for being upfront. The Fellowship is for people who are planning to found a company or transition into something new in the immediate future. If you think you’ll be a bit longer, we’d be happy to defer your offer until the next batch. Let us know by replying to the fellowship acceptance email.