By Maria Derchi Russo
Miami has lured another San Francisco company to town. On Deck has just announced the company will open up a Miami hub and add a recent Miami-transplant to the team. On Deck has recruited former Honey COO, Glen Allison, as its newly-appointed President and COO.
Founded in 2016, On Deck is a type of career accelerator - a place where top talent goes to start or join a company, learn new skills and build meaningful relationships with a close-knit community of peers. Originally focused solely on founders, On Deck has since expanded to role-specific (Chiefs of Staff, Writers, Podcasters, etc.) and sector-specific (Health, FinTech, ClimateTech) fellowships that are 8-10 weeks in length. I myself am currently a part of their first Community Builders cohort that launched last month.
On Deck’s Miami ties have been growing in recent months. This past March On Deck announced a $20M Series A round of funding, led by another new-to-Miami company, Founders Fund. Then on April 2nd, On Deck launched ‘On Deck Drops’, described as “one-off exclusive opportunities in pursuit of our mission to unlock the potential of the most talented people in the world”. The first Drop? Miami Tech with Keith Rabois - a month-long series of in-person events that will bring together 100 builders and investors.
"On Deck started originally as a dinner series in 2016. In 2020, we went fully digital due to COVID. We’re excited to return to our roots and add in person as well, with Miami as our first destination for the in-person On Deck ecosystem. We picked Miami because of its burgeoning tech ecosystem. Expect to see us also going in-person in other areas globally in short order," said Erik Torenberg, On Deck's founder and chairman.
"We’ve scaled our product massively over the last year, going from 0 to almost 20 fellowships, and to a team of ~100 people. Glen has seen rapid scale before, having taken multiple companies and organizations from concept to organizational excellence, and we’re stoked to have his expertise and leadership in scaling our organization."
Originally from Philadelphia, Glen Allison got his start as a software engineer at AOL. His career includes time at Good Technology (sold to Motorola), Microsoft, Twitter (via the acquisition of Gnip) and co-founding his own startup, a social media app called Convoz, alongside Grammy award-winning musician Chamillionaire.
In 2015, Allison joined Honey as their first and only COO. While at Honey, he helped grow the company from a team of 20 to over 400 before the company was acquired by PayPal in 2020 for $4B. Allison made the move to Miami in December of last year.
We caught up with him to learn more about his new role and On Deck’s plans for Miami.
Last we spoke, you were enjoying retirement and improving your golf game. What made you take on another COO role at an early-stage startup?
For me personally, I always like challenges. Having been working for the last 27 years, golf was a nice challenge that allowed me some time to think, and reflect on what was important to me. Helping people achieve their goals has always been very rewarding to me, and scaling start-ups has provided that fulfillment. I was trying to understand how I could do that for more than just one company at a time, and it boiled down to creating environments where groups of people could learn, and scale companies. Meeting the On Deck team immediately clicked for me in their mission, and the downstream impact of growth and scale that will come from their community.
What drew On Deck to launch a Miami hub and what excites you about building in Miami?
Miami is at a very interesting moment in time, and embracing all that the city is offering is really appealing. Having a hub here allows us better access for our international expansion plans, where we expect people to come through town to commune and share. We’re a “Remote-First” company, but we’ll convene our teams regularly in person, and Miami has a lot to offer in terms of infrastructure. The city has been so supportive of startups in every way possible, from the Mayor to the community, to all of the new investors and entrepreneurs. We’re excited to help be a part of growth.
Where do you plan to set up the Miami hub and will you be hiring a local team?
There’s a lot of gravitational pull towards the Wynwood area now, and we’re working with a great team to help us figure out the configurations. On Deck is a “remote-first” company, so our hiring is global. However, with having a physical presence in town, having local folks will certainly be helpful in a number of ways, and we’re excited to get involved with the local talent pool.