From the CEO

Our Vision of the Future

 min read
January 12, 2021
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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.

What is On Deck?

We are building two things:

  1. A new approach to continuous online education. Peer-to-peer focused, delivered through synchronous cohorts of 100-200 individuals. We will launch 120+ of these cohorts in 2021 across ~30 categories.

  2. A private, world-class professional social network, serving as a "campus" to our "college." The On Deck product is a market network, growing in value and utility over time.

We're building the On Deck Network to help you:

  • Quickly find high-quality opportunities and talent
  • Expand your network through curated connections
  • Learn from others who have already done what you want to do
  • Raise capital from the world's best angel investors and VCs
  • Build your knowledge base through our extensive content library

Both of these parts of our business are growing rapidly in 2021, and we're excited to see how they engineer serendipity for our community over time.

Our Mission

We're on a mission to proliferate the world's ability to actualize great ideas.

Do you want to do any of these things?

  • Build or scale a company
  • Join or fund a rocket ship startup
  • Explore what comes next in your life and career
  • Create an audience for your personal brand
  • Become a world-class speaker
  • Actualize a creative product, like a book or course
  • Supercharge your professional path
  • Revolutionize an industry

On Deck was designed for you. And this is just the beginning.

On Deck’s heartbeat is our community. Being part of a world-class community helps you lift above the noise and hone in on the best way to approach whatever comes next on your journey. It's easier to identify the most interesting problems and most promising solutions when you have a network of well-connected, committed early adopters for feedback.

Then, there's education. There is an overwhelming number of self-guided online courses, masterminds, and MOOCs, but most of the time, they fail to live up to the hype. We believe many of these pre-existing education offerings miss something critical to the learning process: The relationships, feedback, perspective, and momentum of who you learn with.

On Deck takes a fundamentally different approach by "re-bundling" community with learning. Our programming centers around providing the optimal balance of peer-to-peer knowledge transfer, deep-dive sessions with industry experts, and tactical support for idea exploration and validation.

The result is a rich ecosystem predicated upon compound reciprocity and "economies of learning"—those who give and engage the most, get the most.

Where did we come from?

We love telling On Deck's origin story—it highlights our passion for connecting brilliant people with diverse perspectives around thought-provoking conversations.

On Deck was founded by Erik Torenberg in 2016 as a series of dinner parties (when that was a thing!). Over the next three years, 5,000+ people attended small, intimate dinners around the world.

Slowly but surely, the evolution of On Deck was born in large part out of a growing need from our community. The people sitting down at one dinner table wished they could meet those sitting down at other On Deck dinner tables across the globe. That growing desire sparked the launch of our very first program, the On Deck Fellowship (ODF) in June 2019.

While 2020 was a challenging year for the world, it also cracked an opportunity wide open for us: building a digital ecosystem that helps people learn and connect more effectively in our new remote-first world.

So, what are we actually building?

There's something magical about a small, intimate community. But utility in a network comes with scale. More people = more opportunity for serendipity.

How do we balance this trade-off?

An intimate look at On Deck Flywheels

There's a remarkable "flywheel" spinning within our original offering, ODF:

  1. People pay money to join.
  2. We use that revenue to hire amazing people,
  3. who create and curate an incredible experience,
  4. which helps members realize a lot of value.
  5. As the community’s reputation grows, so does new member demand.
  6. More demand allows us to curate an ever stronger community.
  7. Repeat. 🤗

One of the most important things we do is community curation. We thoughtfully select engaged, high caliber members, which further accelerates each step of the flywheel.

Now, for the (not so secret) master plan.

On Deck is building a series of adjacent communities that each provide “supply” to another program's "demand." And this is why we're so excited about the future at On Deck:

Our ecosystem's value compounds exponentially with every program and cohort we launch. People come for the community and stay for our powerful Market Network.

The common thread tying everything we do together is our obsession with building the strongest ecosystem for talented, ambitious people to change the world.

Want to get involved?

If this vision resonates — come help us build it! We're hiring. Future founders wanted.

👉 Visit for more.

Apply to join a program.

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

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