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Rob Kalin

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Rob Kalin is the founder of handmade online and vintage marketplace Etsy, which launched in 2005. A high school dropout, Kalin attended numerous universities before he finally graduated from New York University with a degree in classics. Post graduation, Kalin had dreams of becoming a furniture designer, and he searched everywhere on the Internet for a place to sell his stuff online. His search led him down numerous dead ends, with no results for an online marketplace. So, he created his own. He received seed money from a customer of his of up to $500,000 and hired two NYU techies to work on creating the servers for his vision. In 2005, Etsy launched from his Fort Greene apartment in Brooklyn. Today, the company has nearly a quarter-million users who have 3.8 million listed items. The typical day includes about 25,000 sales.

He stepped down as chief executive officer and director of the company for the second time in 2011.

Companies and Investments

Parachutes, Inc. (CCO, Founder), Etsy (Founder)

Lessons Learned

Dream Big – Kalin graduated with a degree in civics. He’s a high school drop out and he’s attended almost half a dozen colleges. He didn’t plan on becoming an entrepreneur, but here he is.

Put Matters Into Your Own Hands – Kalin couldn’t find a website to sell his furniture on, so he created his own. Today, it’s important to find your dream and go for it, no matter what the risk of it is.

Know When You’ve Had Enough – Kalin knew when his run as CEO needed to come to an end. He couldn’t keep up with the rapid speed of the company’s growth. He stepped down in 2011.

Inspiring Quotes

I am a big believer in giving it all away. The best financial planning ends with bouncing the check to the undertaker.

Michael Bloomberg

The prize is the pleasure of finding the thing out, the kick in the discovery, the observation that other people use it.

Richard Feynman

The way you do anything is the way you do everything.

T Waits

Rob Kalin's Quotes

The last 10 percent it takes to launch something takes as much energy as the first 90 percent.

Rob Kalin

Rain makes the night — and us — smaller, softer, and more forthright.

Rob Kalin

Influential Books


Stewart Butterfield and Catarina Fake, co-founders of Flickr