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Jeffrey Kalmikoff

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Jeffrey Kalmikoff is a graphic designer and serial entrepreneur who has worked with numerous startups to develop their products and designs.

When Kalmikoff was a kid, his heroes were Tony Hawk and Frank Lloyd Wright. He studied architecture throughout high school and for a few semesters at Arizona State University, but he later left to study graphic design at Columbia College Chicago. Eventually, he was realizing he was learning more on his own than he was in his classes at school, so he left to continue on the self-taught path.

In about a year’s time, he was supporting himself with freelance print work, and less than a year after that, he landed his first full-time job at a small agency. But then, two years later, Kalmikoff started a one-man design shop out of his apartment in Chicago. Eventually, he moved his company into a small office shared with some friends who had a small online t-shirt project on the side called Threadless.

Kalmikoff spent six years as Chief Creative Officer of Threadless.com where he helped to build the company from a profitable side-project into a hugely successful, multi-million dollar brand with an active online-community of well over a million tee shirt and design enthusiasts.

The company’s success present him opportunities to speak all over the world, have a business model he helped shape become a Harvard Business School case study, and even land him on the cover of INC Magazine along with one of Threadless’ two founders.

After Threadless, he worked at Digg as Director of Design and User Experience from 2009 to 2010 and then at SimpleGeo as VP of Product until it was acquired by Urban Airship in 2011.

In the fall of 2011, he joined the founding team of Betable, a startup based in San Francisco where he currently works as the Head of Design.

Kalmikoff lives in San Francisco with his wife and their two cats.

Companies and Investments

Circa 1605, Inc. (advisor), Urban Airship (advisor), Geekli.st (advisor), Venture 51 (advisor), Storenvy (advisor), POPTIP (advisor), Quick Left (advisor), Sprint.ly (advisor)

15 Megs of Fame (co-founder), inFORMATION Design Lab (founder), Betable (founding team member).

Lessons Learned

Go slower. I think there’s a lot of pressure on people to get to market fast, and I think that VCs really push on that because it’s really in their best interest to have many companies. But I think that if people, entrepreneurs in general, spent more time thinking things through then there would be a lot less toys and lot more businesses.

Inspiring Quotes

There were zombie movies before George Romero the same way there were space movies before George Lucas.

Max Brooks (from Doc of the Dead)

The unbuilt is the fantasy that underlies everything.

Rem Koolhaas

Jeffrey Kalmikoff's Quotes

When we try to do something new, we dont know what were doing. Thats the biggest challenge.

Jeffrey Kalmikoff

A lot of the things weve done have been common sense. You do what makes sense to you and make moves that you are comfortable making. Everything is having fun in mind.

Jeffrey Kalmikoff

If people arent going to talk about your product, then its not good enough.

Jeffrey Kalmikoff

Influential Books


Tony Hawk, Frank Lloyd Wright