On Deck founder fellowship (ODF)
Start a company, together. In 10 weeks.
The On Deck Founder Fellowship (ODF) is a ten-week remote program that brings together an incredible group of founders who are in the early stages of building their next startup. We combine the power of community, world-class speakers, and customized support to help you build the next unicorn.
"So far I’ve been in the On Deck slack for two days and raised $20,000. The program doesn’t even kick-off until tomorrow. If this doesn’t convince you to join, idk what will."
"So thankful for the personal and strategic support (not to mention emotional!) On Deck provided for the last 2 months. love the team & couldn’t recommend them more. Happy to chat about my experience + refer."
"I’m **very** impressed with On Deck’s Founder Fellowship. It’s super well run. The entire experience has been smooth, valuable, and fun. Clearly a lot of work goes into running this operation."
"Is there anything called binge slacking!? Hooked to slack since last night reading about all the AMAZING people who are part of On Deck. Looking forward to the kickoff tonight
"Midway thru ODF & every time I attend a session or interact with the community I have the same excitement as Day 0. I wish all founder communities were like this. I have never seen a community that translates the true essence of business & ideas beyond borders before On Deck."
"Joining On Deck is like getting 1000+ mentors, 1000+ thought partners, 1000+ accountability partners, and 1000+ followers instantly. It's too good to be true, but it's true. 2021 will be the year where On Deck becomes known to all new entrepreneurs."
"Two words review of On Deck: AMAZING EXPERIENCE 🙌And a prediction: it will become the default place entrepreneurs go (back) to throughout their career to start/explore what's next. Life is too short to wing it when there is already a place to find amazing folks to work with"
Featured Program: On deck founders (ODF)
Over 330 companies founded through ODF
the next great wave of companies
Go from idea to company
Explore ideas, problems and markets
Build lifelong connections with fellow founders
Get initial traction and accelerate your progress
Join a community of exceptional individuals
Anne-Laure Le Cunff
Boris de Souza
Apply for the On Deck Founder Fellowship
The On Deck Method
We're building a modern educational institution that redefines how community and learning come together. Being part of any On Deck program means you’ll have access to a community of world-class professionals. With every new program we launch and cohort we start, your network gets stronger.
Here are the cornerstones of the On Deck experience:
Scaled With Software
Spirit of Service
Apply for the On Deck Founder Fellowship
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.
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 $2,590 if paid upfront, or $647 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
4) $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 thanks to the generosity of alumni and partners.
There are no fees to apply so please submit an application to be considered for the fellowship — we only ask about financial assistance requirements after fellows have been accepted in order to avoid discrimination during the evaluation process.
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 Founder Fellowship is geared towards those looking to start companies. Check out our First 50 Fellowship, which is specifically designed for people who want to join early-stage startups.
Since cohort 3, the On Deck Fellowship has gone entirely digital, with stronger engagement and NPS than ever before. You can be based anywhere and participate – In our last cohort we had fellows join from 18 different countries.
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!
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 1200+ 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.
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 — or, check out some of our other fellowship programs.