7 Questions for Andre Zdanow of Quirky

Quirky makes everyday people bona-fide inventors: Thousands of ideas are submitted to their website each week, then the best of those ideas are selected to be produced with input from actual consumers. It’s democratic — and game-changing. And, for the first time on Gilt, we’re featuring a sale (starting Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 9 p.m.) full of products invented by those who’ve made the Quirky cut. Intrigued by this innovative company? We are too… so we asked its sales manager (and the company’s first investor), Andre Zdanow, some questions:

How did you start Quirky? Quirky was founded by Ben Kaufman. I was actually, as Ben put it, his “first investor who wasn’t my mother” when he founded Mophie [a tech-accessories company] in ’05, and I’ve worked with him as an advisor since then. Almost 8 years later he finally thought he could get me to be quiet by having me join Quirky full-time. I’ve been proving him wrong, and selling awesome stuff made by real people ever since.

What’s the thing that makes Quirky stand out most? Quirky’s products are invented by real people. The world tells us what products they want made, and then the nearly 700,000 community members at Quirky.com help determine which ones we’ll make, and influence how they’re made. A percentage of the revenue on all products we sell is shared with anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand people, on each and every unit. Literally anyone can go to Quirky.com/invent and have a chance to see their face on retail shelves around the world.

What inspires you? Not success, but rather success in the face of adversity. Nothing inspires me more than someone who gets up again and again, no matter how often they’re knocked down. People who have every reason to make excuses, but don’t — those are the people who inspire me most.

When interviewing a candidate for your company, what’s the most important trait you look for? And the one you run from? (Just two words!) Hustle. Arrogance.

What’s the best piece of career advice you ever got? Learn to do something useful. Then, become irreplaceable.

Do you prefer to be contacted by email, text, or phone? If you have to ask, you’re not trying hard enough to reach me.

What’s your intra-office dating policy? I’m a bit biased here, as my wife also works at Quirky. (She’ll tell you she was there first!) But, in fairness, our founder met his wife while both were working at Quirky in the early days…. so it’s probably fair to say we don’t have much of a policy on that.

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