Who is a great ODF candidate?

Who is a great ODF candidate?

On Deck’s Admissions team accepts applications on a rolling basis. Read below to learn more about the stages in our application process, timeline, and what we look for. Answers to FAQs concerning the ODF program itself can be found at the bottom of our website. Please email founders@beondeck.com with any additional questions!

ODF is designed for anyone in the early stages of their founder journey.

We’ve looked at over 20,000 completed applications for ODF, and we want to share a bit about what makes for a great ODF applicant, a valued community member, and a successful builder.


We are always looking to understand the experiences you’ve had — including where you’ve worked, what you’ve built, and in what role. Experience as a founder or working at a high-growth startup in a meaningful role, exposure to startup ecosystem, and credible credentials can be helpful in driving the way we pattern match with successful founders already in our community. That being said, there’s no one-size-fits-all persona for an ODF member — our community includes high-growth operators, technical talent, and repeat founders.

Track record of building 0 → 1

We are looking to admit strong builders with a high shipping cadence. Evidence of this track record can look like a Github, personal website with portfolio of products shipped, or links to successful side projects. If you are younger, this may come into class with traditional expectations (college degree, grades, extracurriculars — one ODF member once led a prison break 🙂).

Anti-signal: sharing a project that you led at a FAANG where you played a moderate-sized role in a highly functional team. This is a successful achievement, but we’re more excited to hear about your 0→1 tinkering and side projects.

Pace of Progress

Founders that move quickly are the founders that win, and concrete and measurable goals are a great way to demonstrate your pace of progress. Is your three-month goal to do 10 customer interviews, or to validate your idea by getting 10 users on your MVP and have 100 potential cofounder conversations?


We often reject or defer incredible talent because timing just isn’t right for them to join ODF. If you aren’t already full-time on your startup, it’s alright to use ODF to help you get there — as long as you have a clear line of sight to leaving your current role in the next 1-3 months. ODF is good for you if you’re pre-conviction on ideas, but not if you’re pre-conviction on starting a company. You need to believe in yourself before anyone else can!

Anti-signal: You can’t put a concrete time on the calendar for when you would quit your job to start a company, or you want someone else (investors) to gain conviction in your work before you have conviction in yourself.

Anti-signal #2: You cite your H1-B visa as the reason you haven’t built anything. We frequently see H1-B holders make time to ship impressive progress, even if they are not yet full-time working on their company.

Spirit of service

Spirit of Service — the genuine desire to support and enable other founders in the community — is the lifeblood of ODF. The helpfulness and value of ODF comes from a disposition of the founders we curate.

Anti-signal: You don’t actively want to support other founders, and you can’t come up with examples of how you’ve helped others in the last year. We hope you’re wildly successful, but ODF isn’t for you!

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