On Deck Fundraise and 50-Year Vision

Learn the playbook and pragmatic tactics for early-stage fundraising from Mike Wilner, a startup founder, advisor, and author of Oversubscribed, a book on seed fundraising.

 min read
Last Updated: 
July 5,2021
Article Category

A Tactical Guide to Seed Fundraising

Learn the playbook and pragmatic tactics for early-stage fundraising from Mike Wilner, a startup founder, advisor, and author of Oversubscribed, a book on seed fundraising.

 min read
Last Updated: 
July 5,2021
Sachin Maini
Editorial and Content Lead
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Inspired by this announcement tweet

We’re thrilled to announce: On Deck has raised $3M to build a modern education institution — a platform serving the many strands of identity of ambitious people who want to change the world. ‍

Here's a short deck about where we're going next, and more details below.

Our community of supporters

First, a thank you. We are backed by a community, for the community. Nearly 80 investors have shown their support for our mission over the past two years, including Village Global, DCVC, Keith Rabois, Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon, Balaji Srinivasan, SignalFire, Bloomberg Beta, Henry Ward, Fred Ehrsam, Sander Daniels, Hiten Shah, Soleio, Andreas Klinger, Charlie Feng, Heather Hartnett, Tim Suzman, Unshackled Ventures, Lenny Rachitsky, Jeff Chang, Shiva Rajaraman, Alexia Bonatsos, Adrian Aoun, Fareed Mosavat, Tyler Willis, & many many more (including 25 On Deck Fellowship Alumni).

How did we get here? 

On Deck was founded over four years ago by Erik Torenberg after leaving Product Hunt — himself newly "on deck" to start something new.

Being “on deck” — the state of being between things or thinking of moving on — can be a time filled with uncertainty. 

Especially if searching in secret, it’s not always clear where to turn first.

Our early narrative reflected this vision. 

🔑 Mission (v1): "The first place the best talent looks to start or join something new."

The launch of the On Deck Fellowship, and it’s powerful cohort-based community helped us scale this vision.

Calling all founders

When COVID struck in early 2020, we saw a surge of energy from builders, hungry for change. 

The institutions we grew up with were starting to show signs of cracking.

It's time to build new institutions.

On Deck resonated for those with a bias to action, a tenancy to build.

With Marc Andreessen's call to arms in June, we laid out our new mission statement

🔑 Mission (v2): "10x the number of founders building world changing companies"

Investing in the new wave of builders

Of course, if we’re going to 10x the number of founders, we’d better help build the support infrastructure for them to raise capital and scale their ventures too.

We announced the On Deck Angel Fellowship in July. The first cohort kicks off in September.

🔑 Mission (v2.1): "...and 10x the number of experienced angel investors helping them get started"

The rise of a new institution

Today, a new narrative is emerging. 

"Starting something new doesn't have to mean starting a company."

Starting something new doesn’t always mean starting a company. It could also be a non-profit, or a venture firm, or a blog or newsletter.

Ambition manifests in many forms.

To be "on deck" is to aspire to start something new.

Start a company. 

Start an angel portfolio. 

Start a newsletter, podcast, media empire.

Start a new career.

Start something.

🔑 Mission (v3): "Build a modern education institution — a platform serving the many strands of identity of ambitious people who want to change the world."

Over the next 12 months, we'll launch programs for builders in new verticals. 

We're focused on skills valuable to startup founders, first. 

First up?

Earlier this week, we announced the On Deck Writers Fellowship

Authors, essayists, bloggers, and newsletter writers are entrepreneurs too. 

No matter what you want to build, a great way to start is by building an audience.

How big could this get? 

There's a generational shift underway on many levels: on-premise into the cloud; cultures previously defined by geographies now transcending, adopting global values and beliefs. 

On Deck is Silicon Valley in the Cloud.

It's almost like if a digitally native Stanford for adults were built in 2020.

Want to get involved? 

Join an On Deck Fellowship: 

• ODF5 kicks off next weekend. ODF6 launches October; we just opened applications for ODF7.

• Applications are open for ODA1 and ODW1

Join the team

We're scaling rapidly, profitably, and hiring across the organization. 

👉 Visit for more. 

We're just getting started. Thank you all for your support!

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