How I landed my dream job at an ambitious startup by building in public⚡️

Building an audience on Twitter has been a fulfilling endeavor in itself but I found out when the right time comes, the community will rally around you 🙏🏼

This weekend was the one of the wildest ones in my life.

For context, On Deck, the new Silicon Valley in the cloud, has offered me a dream role as Program Director of their upcoming No-Code Fellowship program. But with a twist. Right on brand with my personal motto “build in public”, the final job offer from On Deck and my acceptance were both done publicly on Twitter. Some called it the new Bachelor episode, some compared it to Warriors recruiting KD and others likened it to proposing publicly at a sporting event. To solve the suspense for you, I said YES. And I’m officially joining On Deck on Oct 19, 2020.

Here’s how it all unfolded. See exhibit A, B, C.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

How did all this begin?

However, this was just the final scene. The actual journey began roughly 30 days ago when I made a bold move on Twitter.

I sent out a bat signal in the form of a thread on Twitter that I’m entering the job market.

You may wonder who cares? Precisely what I wondered as well. I was unsure if it was even worth sharing about my intention on the Internet!

I had been living in America for 9 years and was always fascinated by startups but due to visa limitations, I couldn’t make the jump into the startup land. I kept taking *safe* corporate jobs but never felt like I fit in there. So starting October 2018, I built side-projects in public (using no-code) and shipped them on Twitter and graudally built an audience. So finally in September, after my new visa arrived, I decided to make the leap.

But my fears were holding me back. I don’t have a perfect resume. I don’t have any Silicon Valley connections (I live in Atlanta btw). If I pulled a stunt like this and it fails, I would be laughed at in tech circles. My fear of rejection. My fear of public embarrassment. My fear of failing in public. But I also knew deep down if I were to evangelize “building in public” (and hopefully one day become a succesful founder), I need to push in the direction of my fears not away from them.

The only gut instinct I had was to not make it sound either desperate or self-absorbing. I wondered if I sprinked some humility, showed some vulnerability and confidence may be this will work? May be enough good people will care about the tweet/thread that it’ll reach the right audience. I took a bet and made the following thread on Sep 10.

One of the key tweets was showing proof of my work. I made sure I laid out all my chips in front of people so they understand I’m a builder (and walk the talk!)

Boom. The thread got a few of likes and RTs which made me feel good that I’m moving in the right direction but within a few hours, I also got a few inbound DMs on Twitter from founders who wanted to chat further. I realized the bat signal is being answered :)

The next big move happened on Sep 11 when I stumbled across a job listing from On Deck (thanks to @Alex and @Ada for tagging me and boosting my signal).

This time, I applied in public and tagged @beondeck directly. See below:

A few moments later, Brandon reached out and began our interview process.

Let me drift through a couple things here: (and will hopefully cover the full story in detail on a podcast)

  • The first job I was interviewed for at On Deck was called No-Code Operations. I went thru a couple rounds and was given a take-home assignment. I *almost* finished the assignment but on my next call with Brandon, I told him candidly that the best candidate for this role wouldn’t be me. The day-to-day of the role would entail building no-code automations, zaps and handling a bit of the backend no-code infrastructure. My heart was in teaching, education, front-end community driven tasks. Yet I expressed that I love On Deck and the mission. He appreciated my honesty and we moved on.

  • In a surprising twist of events, On Deck announced a new initiative called “On Deck Labs” later that week on Twitter which included a new program for no-code fellowship. Somewhere deep down, I wanted to check if I could run this program because this would be the dream job for me. I didn’t reach out because it felt like I needed to wait at least a couple weeks after my last interview experience with Brandon.

  • In a remarkable turn of events, Brandon himself reached out to me asking if I would be interesting in a role called “Program Director” for the No-Code Fellowship. And I almost lost my mind! 🤯

  • His recruiting game was so badass that he created an entire Google Doc titled “KP x On Deck” and listed why I would be a great fit for a role like this including references to some of my older tweets on the future of No-Code and communities. I was very impressed. And we began our interview process for the new position.

Needless to say it went great and fast forward to this past weekend, they laid out an incredible offer.

However, I had to make a tough choice.

Thanks to my initial thread and the subsequent follow-up tweets, I ended up with 13 serious job leads in the month of September. 6 of them turned into actual final rounds of interviews. They were all favorable. 3 of them moved super quick and laid out the offers before the weekend. And On Deck was one of them.

I was both overwhelmed by excitement but also nervous to figure out which one would be the best decision.

Given all things equal, which one should I pick? What’s best for my career as a future founder?

I took a little walk outside on Friday and reflected on what *felt* right through the last few weeks. I went back to first principles.

I recollected two specific calls I had in the week. The 1st call was with the CEO David Booth who took a lot of interest in my projects and was stoked when I said "I wanted to “build the MIT Media Lab of No-Code.” He even quoted that in my offer email. Plus he showed great leadership in moving so swiftly and boldly. His offer signalled extreme faith and confidence in me. (compared to my other traditional offers). I want to be like David one day when it comes to recruiting.

The other call was with Erik Torenberg and our chat was amazing. His vision for On Deck was inspiring to say the least. Talked about building a 100 year organization and the idea of “YC like programs” for all kinds of ambitious knowledge workers (writers, nocoders etc). It aligned with what I personally believe too. Accountability-driven, project-oriented and peer-to-peer learning is the future.

Overall, in the days leading up to my decision, On Deck had not only just mentioned the below qualities but also lived them through their application process thus far:

  • Community-centric

  • Give-first mindset

  • Long term games with long term players

  • Giving autonomy and letting me be authentic

Later, I spoke with Sharath, my best friend and a fellow ambitious maker for his advice. He screamed at me to take the On Deck role. His words were somewhere closer to “This would be the highest leverage move you’ll make in your career. Go get it!”

I spoke with Danielle (who’s a wonderful Twitter friend who also nudged me towards On Deck and helped me with the compensation questions)

Ultimately, as it is obvious by now, I chose to join the On Deck rocketship 🚀 and accepted my dream job.

Can’t wait to start this new chapter with On Deck and help the community of no-coders, builders and makers with the new program. I’ll continue to build in public and hopefully you can give it a try too! If you do, always feel free to tag me at @thisiskp_

But why am I joining a startup instead of founding one?

I’ve had several folks ask me this question on Twitter as I made my announcement. Since they’ve followed my side-projects for a while, a few wondered why I couldn’t turn one of my side-projects into a real startup. The answer is simply because I wanted to learn what it was like to be in a rocketship (a fast-growing ambitious startup with a talented roster). Also, I am relatively a newbie in the startup land when it comes to “personal leverage”. Sure a few folks know me from Twitter but it’s not the same. I don’t have a credentialed background like solid work experience at FAANG companies or being the first hire at Uber etc so I figured I serve the startup community as a true insider for a while and build some valuable relationships. This may take a couple of years or more but I’m definitely still going to be building in public and flexing the shipping muscle as much as I can!

Update: We finally announced the On Deck No-Code Fellowship! 🎉


Gratitude

I want to give a huge shout out to my wife (Devin Puvvada) who’s been a remarkable partner in this whole process. She’s helped me sustain the “abundance” mindset and her unfathomable belief keeps me going on rough days. She brought out some fire dance moves when I told her about my decision! I am just blessed and grateful for my family and friends!

Special thanks to:

Other fun mentions I’m grateful for: