Startups

How to Engineer Serendipity

5
 min read
Last Updated: 
August 28, 2020
Startups

How to Engineer Serendipity

Featured post by On Deck Fellowship alumni Gajus Kuizinas sharing his journey finding a co-founder, what he learned from On Deck, and why you should join it too.

5
 min read
Last Updated: 
August 28, 2020
NAVIGATION
Heading 1
Heading 2
Heading 3
Heading 4
Heading 5

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

dsfsdfdsf

Paragraph text goes here

Block Quote looks like this
  1. List 1
  2. List 2
  3. List 3

At the beginning of this year, I joined On Deck – a fellowship of entrepreneurs at various stages of launching their startups – with the goal of expanding my professional network in the Bay Area and finding a co-founder for my next venture.

On Deck was designed as a 10-week onsite program, with social events such as weekend trips, lunches, etc. However, no one had anticipated a global pandemic to strike, and On Deck had to switch to fully remote operations even before the group had a chance to meet in person.

The decision to continue as a remote program came a few weeks before the cohort start date. By then, I have already flown into San Francisco, rented a place, and was testing several startup ideas. As such, the announcement was a huge blow to me, and I was disheartened to learn that the sessions would be conducted online. All the dinners, parties and team bonding activities I was looking forward to have been replaced with Slack chats and Zoom calls.

In retrospect, it is incredible how quickly On Deck managed to reorganize the entire curriculum into a fully-remote event. Kudos to their swift response and hard work in making On Deck 2020 possible! If they had cancelled the cohort, I would not have met all the amazing people and my co-founder.

So how did it all play out?

The first day started with a 4-hour virtual kickoff session. We were split into groups and played icebreaker games. Through introductions, games, and breakout activities, we got to know everyone in the cohort.

Without us knowing at the time, our groups were not random. On Deck evaluated the participants and thoughtfully paired those with complementary skills together. Therefore, it was not entirely coincidental that the first person I spoke to that day became my co-founder (months later). Job well done On Deck!

What followed was 10 weeks of diverse activities:

  • Breakout sessions
  • Hackathons
  • Speed dating
  • 1:1 meetings
  • Virtual dinners

The breakout sessions were a dream come true – imagine the cool founders you follow on Twitter all appearing in your calendar: Julia Lipton, Ryan Hoover, Vinay Hiremath, Andreas Klinger, Elizabeth Yin, and so on. You are free to select topics that are relevant or of interest to you to attend. Each session has around 10 participants, so there are ample opportunities to ask questions and interact with the speaker.

Snack was built for an ODF hackathon.
(Snack was built for an ODF hackathon)

Meanwhile, hackathons allowed groups to work together and demonstrate their strengths. It was during one of these hackathons that I built Snack. On Deck were the first adopters and their feedback shaped the product today. At this point in time, I already had several conversations with my future co-founder on starting a business together. I look up to him & like what he is working on, and him seeing me build a hackathon project that grew to be used by hundreds of Slack organizations is what sealed the deal.

Today

My co-founder (Ben) and I are building a professional network for people you actually work with. Meanwhile, Tracy has taken over the day-to-day Snack operations of providing serendipity-as-a-service to teams.

Joining On Deck is undoubtedly one of the best moves I have pursued. Never have I thought a virtual program could be this engaging and inspiring. In fact, the 10 weeks with On Deck were some of the most sociable weeks in my professional life, and the sense of community continues to be felt to this day.

On Deck did an excellent job creating what felt like serendipity, but is actually a diligently orchestrated event with hand-picked individuals that form a supportive community of shared goals and deep subject expertise. I am excited to share the magic that I felt during On Deck with you through Snack. ❤️

Get tactical advice sent straight to your inbox every month.

Aaron Appleton
Abhijeet Patra
Abhishek Anirudhan
Ada Nguyen
Adam Gelman
Afraj Gill
Akanksha Manik Talya
Alexandra Barr
Alexandra Worthington
Ali Greenberg
Allison Dea-Kemp
Amaan Sayed
Amine Aboura
Amrutha Adusumilli
Amy Story
Anastasia Chapman
Andre Bjork
Andrea Torres
Andreas Klinger
Andrew Rea
Andrew Yu
Angie Ryan
Ani Pai
Ann Ferracane
Ann Miura-Ko
Anna Drabovskaya
Anne Bosman
Anthony Nardini
Ari Calumpang
Ari Gootnick
Arielle Tannenbaum
Ash Wesley
Ashley Tolbert
Ashna Mahtani
Ashwin Lalendran
Asta Diabate
Barry Conrad
Bea Aguila
Becky Stephens
Benjamin Plummer
Bernadeth Madlangbayan
Blue Davis
Brandon Taleisnik
Brandon Zhang
Brennan Foo
Brett Wietecha
Brianne Ilagan
Callie Cox
Callum McDonnell
Candice Ammori
Carly Dalgleish
Carolyn Wakulchik
Chai Flores
Chaitanya Choudhary
Chance McAllister
Charles Cushing
Charlie Taibi
Charm Lagura
Chioma Kalu
Chris Moreno
Clara Ma
Conor Brady
Cullin McGrath
Curtis Cummings
Curtis Sandy
Danitra Blue
David Booth
David Fallarme
David Hoang
David Weinstein
David Zhou
Denise Devlyn
Dishita Shah
Don Ho
Donté Verrill Huffman
Eade Bengard
Edgar Brown
Egor Zaitsev
Eliot Gattegno
Eliza Popa
Emily Edmonds
Eric Friedman
Erik Torenberg
Erika Batista
Flo Bühringer
Gajus Kuizinas
Gautam Shewakramani
Gianna Chan
Gonz Sanchez
Halden Ingwersen
Haleigh Wilson
Harry Siggins
Harshita Jain
Hayley Wade
Holly Stinson
Ilia Schelokov
Imran Mumtaz
Jack Fritzinger
Jacki Glass
Jackie Miller
Jackie Williams
Jackson Steger
Jake Schonberger
Jake Singer
James Sinka
Jamie Farrell
Janel Loi
Jared Gordon
Jason Piersialla
Jenna Kellner
Jeremy Sto Tomas
Joanna Cohen
Joe Penn
John Yang
Jolisa Masucol
Josefin Graebe
Josh Sushan
Julia Culhane
Julian Weisser
Justine Kim
Karel van der Vyver
Karthik Puvvada (KP)
Katarina Smith
Katie Kent
Katya Delaney
Keith Williams
Kelly Hook
Kelly Kang
Kieran Ryan
Lana-Lea Dennis
Lauren Hoffman
Laís de Oliveira
Lei Ugale
Leon van der Vyver
Liam Herbst
Lili Welch
Lorenzo Castro
Lucas Hasselfeld
Lucía Júdez-Serrano
Manar AlSagob
Margot Black
Maria Jimena Sanchez
Mariya Boykova
Marshall Kosloff
Marty Bode
Matias Sanchez Sarmiento
Max Nussenbaum
Michael Bassani
Michael Butler
Michael Gill
Michelle Kwok
Mike Daugherty
Mike Wilner
Mindaugas Petrutis
Mindy Zhang
Ming Lu
Minn Kim
Mohga Koshty
Morris Huang
Natalie Toren
Nate Snow
Nathan Cheng
Niko Zona
Nur Sevencan
Odi Mustadi
Omer Kalderon
Owen Willis
Pablo Pinto
Patrick Blumenthal
Patrick Watson
Paul Gleger
Paula Abarca
Payam Salehi
Pujaa Rajan
Rachel Farley
Randi Kay
Rebecca Senchak
Reza Saeedi
Riley Gibbs
Rishi Tripathy
Rod Cherkas
Rodrigo Bou
Rui Nunes
Sabrina Fathi
Sachin Maini
Sahar Mor
Salomé Taieb
Sam Huleatt
Sam Kirschner
Sar Haribhakti
Sara Hennings
Sarah Rothenberg
Sasha Orloff
Satya Chheda
Saul Diez-Guerra
Savannah Sodeman
Selena Carrion
Shriya Nevatia
Sierra Ching
Siffrein Diana