<aside> <img src="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/515d64da-4e76-4db9-a130-580ac2144904/On_Deck_logo_Smaller.png" alt="https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/515d64da-4e76-4db9-a130-580ac2144904/On_Deck_logo_Smaller.png" width="40px" /> On Deck is on a mission to build a modern education institution for the future of work.
Today, On Deck has become the place top talent and ambitious builders go to accelerate their ideas and careers, empowered by a world-class community of their peers.
An education business with software margins: On Deck turned a $763k net profit on $2.71M revenue in 2020, and enters 2021 on a ~$20M run rate. Our defensible advantage and pricing power draw from unprecedented customer love and advocacy, low cost to acquire and serve customers, and the unique interaction of our various community "flywheels" — explored in detail below.
After a positive response from the market in Jan, we entered February with term sheets from two of the world's top four VC firms, each at a $250M post-money valuation. After a rollercoaster ride detailed in full [below](<https://odteam.notion.site/On-Deck-Series-A-Investor-Memorandum-Feb-21-66274207f88f4740bdc35303c03e99b4>), our current status is: 👉 we have limited this raise to $20M. We are profitable and already moving at breakneck speed, additional capital doesn't equal additional growth. 👉 The round is led by **Founders Fund**, with participation from Learn Capital, NFX, Slack Fund, Elad Gil, Avichal Garg, Allison Pickens, Julia DeWahl, Nadia Eghbal, JD Ross, Matt Huang, Ryan Caldbeck, Jack Altman, Sahil Lavingia, Scott Belsky, Eric Wu, John Kobbs, Ryan Petersen, Fred Ehrsam, Anthony Pompliano (Pomp), Adam D'Angelo, Sriram Krishnan, Gokul Rajaram and many more. 👉 We have reserved a small allocation for members of the On Deck community, and are raising an additional ~$2M from individual operators that have founding, VP or C-level operating experience at category-leading companies, and want to be part of defining and sharing the frontier of the education industry. 👉 We are targeting $25k to $50K checks. If you'd like to do more, let David know and we will circle back once we have a better sense of allocations. — David, Erik, and the On Deck team. </aside> --- - **[Executive Summary](<https://odteam.notion.site/On-Deck-Series-A-Investor-Memorandum-Feb-21-66274207f88f4740bdc35303c03e99b4>)** - **[The On Deck Journey** || Where we came from](<https://odteam.notion.site/On-Deck-Series-A-Investor-Memorandum-Feb-21-66274207f88f4740bdc35303c03e99b4>) - **[The On Deck Flywheels** || Our strategy and approach](<https://odteam.notion.site/On-Deck-Series-A-Investor-Memorandum-Feb-21-66274207f88f4740bdc35303c03e99b4>) - [The On Deck Product || Come for the community, stay for the "Market Network"](<https://odteam.notion.site/On-Deck-Series-A-Investor-Memorandum-Feb-21-66274207f88f4740bdc35303c03e99b4>) - **[The Macro Backdrop ||** why now?](<https://odteam.notion.site/On-Deck-Series-A-Investor-Memorandum-Feb-21-66274207f88f4740bdc35303c03e99b4>) - **[Team** || Who we are](<https://odteam.notion.site/On-Deck-Series-A-Investor-Memorandum-Feb-21-66274207f88f4740bdc35303c03e99b4>) - **[Appendices** || Additional Resources](<https://odteam.notion.site/On-Deck-Series-A-Investor-Memorandum-Feb-21-66274207f88f4740bdc35303c03e99b4>) [<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1347693916405911553>](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1347693916405911553>) # Executive Summary > *In short, On Deck is "Stanford for the internet."* > A university is far more than its curricula. People discover what and whom they love, develop the skills and EQ to build a career, and make the most meaningful professional and personal relationships of their lives. **Why does that stop at the arbitrary age of twenty-two?** On Deck is building a "*modern education institution*" where top technology talent and ambitious builders go to start or join a company, develop new skills, build relationships and ****accelerate through the "step functions" of their careers — a campus for lifelong learning. Specifically, we are building two things: - a new approach to **continuous online education:** delivered through synchronous 'cohorts' of 100 - 200 individuals, with an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning. In 2021, we will launch up to 120 of these cohorts across ~30 subsets, driving substantial upfront cash flow. - a **private,** **professional social network and platform.** Serving as the "campus" to our "college," the On Deck product is a “[*market network*](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1345914642015506432>)**”** facilitating matching between talent and opportunity, knowledge, and more. Think: private LinkedIn/AngelList meets Quora — with potential to be as impactful as any of them. > *What Twitter did for media, On Deck will do for online education**.*** > When thinking about the future, it's easy to extrapolate existing business models onto new technologies, but very hard to predict *emergent* behavior. When the internet first came along, we created PDFs of newspapers online and said, "*This will change everything!*" But it didn't. That was *Twitter —* the **experimentations of an online community led to the emergence of a new peer-to-peer medium, native to the internet. Similarly, the first generation of "ed-tech" (MOOCs, etc) failed to live up to the hype. Learning from their shortcomings, On Deck "*re-bundles*" community with curriculum. We build the tools and culture that makes peer-to-peer education rewarding and personal. What emerged is a place for *continuing education* and *socialization* for every curious human with an IP address. Stanford University, native to the internet. ## ***Here are four key ideas we hope you take from this memo:*** ## 1️⃣ **On Deck is already a substantial business, and is on track to 10x (again) in the next 2-3 years.** - On Deck existed as a vibrant, volunteer-run community for three years *before* becoming a business. This "accrued goodwill" establishes both an authentic foundation for our community [values](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1347557861392412674>) and a substantial headstart over would-be competitors. - On Deck has developed meaningful pricing power. Proudly more expensive than alternatives, yet customers [regularly recommend](<https://twitter.com/david__booth/status/1312819051979182080>) we charge more, and publicly call for annual plans and subscriptions. - Most communities are chronically undercapitalized. On Deck uses its pricing power/program revenue to hire the best talent, and invest in creating exceptional experiences. This in turn helps build reputation and drives new member demand, enabling further investment in R&D, acquisition, and distribution. A self-reinforcing flywheel: ![ ↑ Source: [The internal community flywheel](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1345914629843664898>) ↑](<https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/a0716637-dac4-4444-9a29-bdc3da9bd803/community_flywheel_card.gif>) ↑ Source: [The internal community flywheel](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1345914629843664898>) ↑ - Scaling communities is ***hard***, but we think we’ve cracked the code. At On Deck, each fellowship cohort is simultaneously small and intimate (think: "class"), nested within a broader, highly aligned sub-community ("program"), and woven into a larger ecosystem ("campus"). - The secret: each new program contributes a specific "supply" that meets an existing "demand" we identify within our network. For example, our founders, angels, and talent fellowships are tightly interwoven. See the full "flywheels" thesis laid out on Twitter [here](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1345914609320960001>). ![ ↑ Source: [The cross-community flywheel](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1345914672126459904>) ↑ ](<https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/9a31533c-acee-48b3-8c10-f2fdb63c2fa6/creatorfounder.gif>) ↑ Source: [The cross-community flywheel](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1345914672126459904>) ↑ - While the majority of our current revenue comes from consumer-facing programs (where each Fellow pays personally), we now have our first three ***career*** programs live — think: “YPO for X.” These sell into the "Learning & Development" budget, and are typically expensed to an employer. The first of these billed $620k revenue in its first cohort. - In addition to upfront "tuition" fees, On Deck additional revenue streams include: - **Partnerships**: $600k ARR across 17 partners (AWS, Carta, AngelList, Mercury Bank, Substack, and more), with a target of $1.5M ARR by EOY 2021; - **Recruiting**: prior to Jan ‘21 acquisition, Lean Hire (details below) was turning over $50k+ per month. We expect this to become a major profit centre by Q3 2021. - **Digital subscription "bundle"** — Launching Q1 2021, analogous to Peloton’s ongoing media subscription, bundled with upfront capital outlay. ![ ↑ Source: [beondeck.com](<http://beondeck.com>) ↑](<https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/ac4a2d16-3f7c-4adc-9b43-0719e9a7d2f4/Untitled.png>) ↑ Source: [beondeck.com](<http://beondeck.com>) ↑ ## 2️⃣ **Our customers f*ing LOVE us.** - Nearly one in three of our all-time customers (~700 people) have added On Deck to their [Twitter bios](<https://twitter.com/search?q=beondeck&src=typed_query&f=user>) ****and/or Linkedin — choosing to align their core professional identity with their participation in an On Deck program. ***To our knowledge, this is unprecedented within the tech industry.*** - Customers describe On Deck using superlatives like "*life-changing,*" "*the best decision I ever made,*" "*It's too good to be true, but it's true,*" and more. Scroll the quote-retweets of our "2020 Year in Review" [here](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1343723704505667584/retweets/with_comments>) for 50+ such examples. - Customers gladly pay $2,000-$5,000+ out of their own pockets to join a program—previously inconceivable for consumer-focused personal productivity or community products—and are exhibiting strong "repeat buying" behavior: 25% of our first "Writers" cohort had previously participated in ODF, several have signed up for their third and fourth programs. - Our NPS consistently polls around 65-70. Even better: customers actually "walk the talk," making over 2,500 referrals in the past twelve months. This constitutes one of our biggest growth channels. - Of 1,500 people in the Founder Fellowship ("ODF") Slack channel, 81% are active (10+ messages sent per month) up to 1.5 years later (*most Slack communities retain 5-10% engagement maximum*). Slack's Head of Enterprise Sales recently stated: *"On Deck is an absolute anomaly — we’ve never seen a community like it.”* - Participants have achieved very real success against a broad range of goals. Most notably, at least 330 companies have been founded and collectively raised upwards of $250M pre-seed/seed funding during the On Deck Founder Fellowship, in just 18 months. ![ ↑ Source: [beondeck.com](<http://beondeck.com>) ↑](<https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/c0e8f13f-9b88-4168-a8d9-4dcbdd1a5606/Untitled.png>) ↑ Source: [beondeck.com](<http://beondeck.com>) ↑ ## **3️⃣ Why this team?** - We have assembled an all-star, rapidly growing team of 56 to scale into this opportunity, including many former founders, experienced entrepreneurial leaders. Upcoming hires include COO and CRO. - The On Deck communities offer a true unfair advantage when it comes to recruiting — allowing us to see talent and build relationships with hundreds of candidates before they get close to our internal team pipeline. Nearly a third of our current team were hired from the On Deck community. - Our founding team and leadership were *made* for the job: - On Deck Founder & Chairman [Erik Torenberg](<https://twitter.com/eriktorenberg/>) is a renowned community builder, founding team at Product Hunt and founder at Village Global; - Co-founder & CEO [David Booth](<https://twitter.com/david__booth>) is an experienced 3x former founder, deep "systems thinker" with experience in finance and law, product & operations at AngelList, Carta, CoinList; - CTO [Andreas Klinger](<https://twitter.com/andreasklinger/status/1346494825546264576>) was founding CTO at Product Hunt, VP Engineering at CoinList, and Head of Remote at AngelList. - COO (Interim) [Eric Friedman](<https://twitter.com/EricFriedman/status/1347572754262990855>) was previously COO at [Company](<http://company.co>), Head of Expa Labs, and Global Director Sales & Revenue at Foursquare. - Head of Experience [Trish Kennelly](<https://www.linkedin.com/in/trish-kennelly-922b8026/>) was formerly VP Product & Experience at Remote Year. - Many, many more. ![<https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/18e37fd4-577a-48a9-8b80-e724185e43a1/Image_from_iOS.jpg>](<https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/18e37fd4-577a-48a9-8b80-e724185e43a1/Image_from_iOS.jpg>) ## **4️⃣ Why now?** - **On Deck is riding a series of (at least) four "macro" waves / tailwinds:** - The decline of traditional higher education and rise of "ed-tech 2.0" — which will anchor around the "re-bundling" of virtual curriculum and community. - The shift into the "deployment age" of the internet. Software has eaten/infiltrated the world. The half-life of professional skills has fallen to five years. Most people haven't yet learned to thrive in this new economy. - A shift to distributed living/working as the new norm — as accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. On Deck is "[Silicon Valley in the Cloud](<https://twitter.com/mishkaorakzai/status/1285945726271459329>)"; - The decline of organized religion, and an ongoing search for meaning, identity, and community in modern life (see: Peloton). ![ ↑ Source: ["citizens of the internet" Tweetstorm](<https://twitter.com/david__booth/status/1344433835887366145>) ↑](<https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/secure.notion-static.com/a2c5bb7f-6940-47e3-b1c8-8309683e72db/Eqfd2BUU0AAsf-r.png>) ↑ Source: ["citizens of the internet" Tweetstorm](<https://twitter.com/david__booth/status/1344433835887366145>) ↑ - We are raising up to $20M on a $250M post-money valuation[](<https://odteam.notion.site/On-Deck-Series-A-Investor-Memorandum-Feb-21-66274207f88f4740bdc35303c03e99b4>). - We are looking for ~3/4 (up to ~$15M) from strategic VCs and angels, and reserving the final 1/4 for our community — including a ***private*** Reg CF "crowd sale" which will be offered exclusively to our ~2,500 current Fellows and alumni. - Why raise? On Deck is profitable MoM with $2.7M cash and equivalents on hand. Though we don't "need" the capital, the goal of this raise is four-fold: - (1) Further accelerate our engineering and product hiring. The On Deck product is an invaluable part of the experience, but also has break-out potential as a potential LinkedIn competitor. We're in full blitzscaling mode, and want to prioritize talent acquisition. - (2) Build a "war chest" (cash + equity value) to deploy an M&A growth strategy. Communities are valuable intangible assets — but most are extremely undercapitalized, make for easy acqui-hire targets, and offer high ROI once we plug in On Deck’s “distribution.” We have 10-15 possible targets in our pipeline, and two recent completed examples in "[Performative Speaking"](<https://twitter.com/RobbieCrab/status/1344441624567410690>) and "[Lean Hire](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1348790939033108480>)." - (3) With IRL returning, we have identified a unique opportunity to *own* the space between virtual education and physical connection — and want to accelerate into this opportunity. - (4) Give our early supporters and community the opportunity to participate in the value they've helped to create, building an army of advocates in the process. [[back to top]](<https://odteam.notion.site/On-Deck-Series-A-Investor-Memorandum-Feb-21-66274207f88f4740bdc35303c03e99b4>) [<https://twitter.com/eriktorenberg/status/1296977728915136514>](<https://twitter.com/eriktorenberg/status/1296977728915136514>) [<https://twitter.com/david__booth/status/1344433835887366145>](<https://twitter.com/david__booth/status/1344433835887366145>) [<https://twitter.com/GriffFoxley/status/1336433454695649280>](<https://twitter.com/GriffFoxley/status/1336433454695649280>) [<https://twitter.com/martygberg/status/1331360003077386242>](<https://twitter.com/martygberg/status/1331360003077386242>) [<https://twitter.com/eriktorenberg/status/1351974630085468160>](<https://twitter.com/eriktorenberg/status/1351974630085468160>) [<https://twitter.com/nujabrol/status/1328400833696960514>](<https://twitter.com/nujabrol/status/1328400833696960514>) [<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1345914609320960001>](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1345914609320960001>) [<https://twitter.com/mrbocs/status/1293668041067200519>](<https://twitter.com/mrbocs/status/1293668041067200519>) [<https://twitter.com/jackie_hyland/status/1297655008125685761>](<https://twitter.com/jackie_hyland/status/1297655008125685761>) [<https://twitter.com/david__booth/status/1326279429169901568>](<https://twitter.com/david__booth/status/1326279429169901568>) [<https://twitter.com/DomPotter/status/1294340456546021376>](<https://twitter.com/DomPotter/status/1294340456546021376>) [<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1347557831646408705>](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1347557831646408705>) [<https://twitter.com/MiguelISolano/status/1251162594611802112>](<https://twitter.com/MiguelISolano/status/1251162594611802112>) [<https://twitter.com/coolnalu/status/1337965521061490690>](<https://twitter.com/coolnalu/status/1337965521061490690>) [<https://twitter.com/Gallardo_Luchi/status/1316052330090033157>](<https://twitter.com/Gallardo_Luchi/status/1316052330090033157>) [<https://twitter.com/_unable0/status/1350877142033154050>](<https://twitter.com/_unable0/status/1350877142033154050>) [<https://twitter.com/chornesays/status/1327352078201548802>](<https://twitter.com/chornesays/status/1327352078201548802>) [<https://twitter.com/sinned/status/1285404255843569664>](<https://twitter.com/sinned/status/1285404255843569664>) # **The On Deck Journey** || Where we came from [<https://twitter.com/eriktorenberg/status/735380476190396416?s=20>](<https://twitter.com/eriktorenberg/status/735380476190396416?s=20>) [<https://twitter.com/david__booth/status/961757456429920257?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.notion.so%2Fodteam%2FOn-Deck-Tweet-archive-7f53397b41624d17a986e8ad7256188d>](<https://twitter.com/david__booth/status/961757456429920257?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.notion.so%2Fodteam%2FOn-Deck-Tweet-archive-7f53397b41624d17a986e8ad7256188d>) [<https://twitter.com/btaleisnik/status/1185624975761260544>](<https://twitter.com/btaleisnik/status/1185624975761260544>) [<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1283508002830479365>](<https://twitter.com/beondeck/status/1283508002830479365>) [Founded](<https://www.producthunt.com/posts/on-deck>) by Erik Torenberg in 2016, On Deck first emerged as an under-the-radar community and dinner series for repeat founders, experienced engineering, product, and operating talent to explore their next move — to be “on deck” in confidence, among a highly curated community of their peers. **In the first three years, over 5,000 people attended small, intimate On Deck dinners in 23 cities around the world,** coordinated by a rolling cast of volunteers. On Deck CEO David Booth was one — joining to launch and lead our European chapters while living in London in 2017. Early On Deckers at these dinners connected with co-founders, investors, and first hires —— and helped countless others by making introductions, brainstorming ideas, and being a sounding board through the process of starting up. The seeds were planted for many impactful friendships, investments, and companies. ### *Early retreats, first Fellowships:* Momentum in the community built throughout 2018, culminating in a series of highly successful "founder retreats" in early 2019. In June of that year, we launched the first On Deck Fellowship, pitched to the community: > *an intensive 8-week program for experienced engineering, product, and operating talent in the earliest stages of starting new startups.* > One hundred and twenty Fellows joined the first cohort in person in San Francisco, attending a series of thematic dinners and co-working days, and founding a series of notable startups. *Participants in that first group included Sean Linehan and Katie Kent of [Placement](<https://www.placement.com/>), Maksim Stepanenko of [Primer](<http://withprimer.com/jobs>), Andrew Connor and Sam Corcos of [Levels](<https://www.levelshealth.com/>); Brandon Hill of [Vori](<http://vori.com/>), Noor Siddiqui of [Orchid](<https://www.orchidhealth.com/>), and many more.* The second Fellowship launched in October 2019 with ~120 Fellows in San Francisco and ~80 in NYC. For the first time, the signs of a powerful online community started to emerge, as Fellows connected cross-country to share knowledge, and create early online programming.