December 08, 2020 • 6 min readSTARTUPS
Got accepted into an On Deck cohort? It's orientation week and you're navigating your way through things? Well, firstly, congrats! The next 3 months are going to be fun, fast and fulfilling. For many folks, On Deck is a way for them to meet a potential cofounder whom they might start a company with. That was my goal when I joined back in March, for cohort 3. I do feel like a dinosaur now with how long ago its been, but On Deck has been incredibly valuable to my journey. Justin and I met through On Deck back in March and we been working together since.
Cool, so, how to find a cofounder during On Deck? Here are 3 tips to help you navigate the maze.
While I think it's a great suggestion, do take this one lightly. There are 200+ members of each cohort, so it's not possible to speak to every single person (by the time you're done, the cohort might be over!). Rather, use the community directory to filter down folks that fit your criteria (location, skillset, etc.). Then, go and speak to as many as you can. I'd suggest doing a calendar crunch of 30 mins zoom calls, back-to-back. If you are technical, well, life might be a little easier as you are in high demand. If you're non-technical and looking for a technical cofounder, prioritize your time for the technical people first. There are benefits to this:
While I was On Deck 3, Justin was On Deck 2. Despite this, the community was small and the pool was smaller than it was today. There weren't general rules around speaking to folks from other cohorts but it surprisingly worked out nicely for the both of us – and it may surprise you too! There aren't cohort lines and folks who've attended previous cohorts aren't necessarily tied up. They may still be look, they may have had a team fallout, they may have joined On Deck too early. In our case, Justin had joined a little earlier than he was ready to. When he was on his way out, it was during my cohort and thought I'd be a good fit. The rest is history.
As I am writing this, we are going through our fundraising. One thing I noticed is VCs don't cofounder date. They have a process; first meeting with partner 1, second meeting with partner 2, third is a due diligence call with someone within network, and finally, fourth is all partner meeting. If VCs decided they should investment-date each company, they'd run out of time and use up the founder's valuable time. In my opinion, this is the same when finding a cofounder. Here is what I have done:
While it feels like a shotgun marriage, it really is to be honest. It will never replace working with someone you previously worked with or have a history with, but you can get as close as possible by committing earlier. For Justin and I, we committed in March. Our first project didn't work out. That was fine, because we learned how to work together, get users, grow the product and ultimately see it fail.
I spoke to folks who were working with 2-3 people at the same time to see who's a best fit. In my opinion, this has huge opportunity cost.
In my opinion, 3-4 conversations will help you decide if you want to work with this individual. Decide and commit. Cut the conversations with others and get started.
On Deck encourages folks to get involved. Get involved! Many folks I spoke to were ones I'd see on Zoom often, posted in Slack often or gave talks I was really interested in. For me, it was a signal of engagement and desire to do something. It also gave me a little glimpse of who they are prior to meeting them. I'd recommend the same. Get involved as much as you can. It'll pay dividends :)
Thanks for reading! Feel free to reach out to me on Slack – I'd love to talk to you and meet you!