Announcing: On Deck acquires Lean Hire!

 min read
January 10, 2021
Heading 1
Heading 2
Heading 3
Heading 4
Heading 5

Note: If you’re an early-stage founder anywhere from pre-idea through pre-seed, consider applying to On Deck Founders

Note: This article is adapted from a live discussion for the On Deck community featuring On Deck alums Ming Lu and Vik Duggal. If you’re an early-stage founder, angel investor, or exec interested in joining our community, consider applying to one of our programs - you’ll be in great company.

Note: If you’re an early-stage founder anywhere from pre-idea through pre-seed, consider applying to On Deck Founders.

Note: This article is adapted from a live discussion for the On Deck community featuring Josefin Graebe. If you’re an early-stage founder, scaling founder, or senior exec interested in joining our community, consider applying to one of our programs.

This article is the first in our annual series Year in Preview.  In the 4 years since we launched the On Deck Founders program, we’ve seen +1000 companies get started and raise over $2B in funding.

Why? Easy answer: Traditional hiring is broken. 

Formal interview processes can stretch for weeks or months, biasing for credentials and interview skills over the actual ability to build, ship, and perform on the job.

What’s more, making the wrong hire can significantly impact teams—especially for senior roles—when people don’t work out and end up moving on quickly. 

Meanwhile, there is substantial “career risk” for senior talent considering a jump into early-stage startups, with no clear way to test out culture and mission/vision fit before diving into a new full-time role.

Here's what the typical hiring process currently looks like:

Lean Hire de-risks hiring by simplifying the contract-to-hire process and speeding up the path to having top talent work on important projects as soon as possible. The best way to judge if people will be successful in a company is to get them to work on a real project.

We curate companies and talent, helping engineers, designers, marketers/growth, operations, and former founders get paid to take on projects that interest them. They get to give the job a test drive and see what it's like to work at a company before committing to join full-time.

How did we get here? 

“I didn't plan to build this,” explains Peer, when asked about the origin story of Lean Hire. 

“In March 2020, we had to shut down our YC W19 company during the pandemic. A few months later, I turned to my fellow YC founders for work opportunities. With very little savings in the bank as an early-stage founder, I turned towards freelance work for the first time in my life. I posted my previous work and some side projects in the YC forum and asked if anybody had a short-term gig for me. Quickly, more than 10 companies reached out–the inflow was so heavy that I had to create a Typeform to keep track of everything. "

Peer realized he wasn't the only founder who had to shut down or look for supplemental income. He re-launched under the name “Book a YC team," and signed up 25 other founding teams who were interested in taking on some additional work to keep the lights on during the pandemic. 

As the economy recovered and Lean Hire’s business grew, Peer realized that many rapidly scaling companies weren’t adapting to this new “remote-first” reality. New norms create new needs, and it was time for a change:

“For years, we've been okay with the rigidity and the arbitrary outcomes of existing hiring processes. Interviews are terrible. Month-long screenings are not efficient. And bad hires are often fatal for early-stage startups.”

Joining the fifth cohort of the On Deck Fellowship in June 2020, Peer found himself at home among a rapidly growing community of builders, founders, and job-seekers. 

“When I first heard of the On Deck Fellowship, I was not sure if I wanted to join but I gave it a try. Within the first two weeks, I knew the company was up to something interesting. As the program went on, it became clear to me that I wanted to join one of the most ambitious teams in the current environment. Lean Hire was growing profitably on a MoM basis, but the team and momentum of On Deck have convinced me to become part of this journey.”

Aligned on our views of the future, On Deck and Lean Hire agreed to an acquisition, and we’re thrilled to have Peer Richelsen and his deep product expertise join us full-time as Head of Product.

As a result of the acquisition, will continue to run as a standalone unit and will receive even more resources to operate and further de-risk hiring in a remote world.

How it works 

  1. 🔭 Vetted companies will post the scope, length, and pay for projects with the ultimate intent to hire.
  2. 🙋🏽 Candidates apply for relevant projects, and all fees are waived for participants in current On Deck Fellowships.
  3. 🤝 Matches are made, and candidates sign contracts. Those contracts can run anywhere from three days to three+ months.
  4. 🥳 Post-project, if all went well, a candidate can join as a full-time hire!

Here's what the new hiring process looks like through Lean Hire:

This refreshed contract-to-hire process enable us to pave the way for the best talent to work with the best companies across and outside of the On Deck ecosystem. Lean Hire will be the first place On Deck’s inaugural “First 50” Fellowship cohort will engage in to find roles at breakout companies from ODF and beyond.

And the fun doesn't stop there. 

Lean Hire is part of the connective tissue for the broader On Deck network. Companies and candidates can currently connect into 12+ programs, with many more to come.

We're excited to be on the cutting edge of the future of hiring in a remote-first world.

Note: If you’re an experienced professional looking to gain clarity on your next move, check out Execs On Deck

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4


Paragraph text goes here

Block Quote looks like this
  1. List 1
  2. List 2
  3. List 3