On removing middlemen, playing by his own rules, and loving things that are so bad they're good.
FORTUNE — When Oklahoma-born Jon Crawford went to the University of Kansas for college, he couldn’t settle on what he wanted to study. He churned through seven possible majors — including studies in film, law, music therapy, computer science, and journalism — before winding up with a business degree in marketing. (And none of that includes his title of air guitar champion, but that’s another story for another time.)
After college, he started a web design company where he built websites for small businesses. He found himself annoyed that there wasn’t an easier way for people to set up their own stores online, an idea which sparked his current company, Storenvy. Started in 2011 with seed funding from Spark Capital, First Round Capital, and KPCB, Storenvy is an online marketplace for shoppers and merchants to sell unique, and oftentimes quirky, products. Storenvy has launched more than 75,000 online merchants from its San Francisco-based office and is quickly growing.
Crawford, 32, spoke with Fortune.
1. Who in technology do you admire most? Why?
I’m not really a hero-driven person, but the two people that I admire most for what they’ve accomplished are Jack Dorsey and Steve Jobs.
The reason I admire Jack is that all the projects he’s been involved in have a core common thread even though they’re in unrelated industries. There’s always this deep human need that’s the same. In both Twitter and Square, he’s making something simple that used to be complicated. He’s making something transparent that used to be opaque. [Both companies] are him looking at a situation, seeing the same problem, and solving it. With great entrepreneurs, the vertical doesn’t matter. It’s the core human problem that’s being solved.
And with Steve Jobs, he saw the world in a different way, and he bent the collective consciousness of our entire world to start to see things the way he saw it. He was so uncompromising and devoted to his vision and mission.
2. Which companies do you admire? Why?
I am kind of obsessed with NastyGal, for one. I love the origin story, how she [CEO Sophia Amoruso] was on eBay before. They’re so consistently true to their brand. Their social media [presence] is right on point. It’s this loud and proud “edgy is cool” brand that is polarizing, I’m sure, but it’s so confident and empowering to women. That’s something I want us to strive for, to be that consistent. So I really admire the brand.
From a product standpoint, I love Tinder and Secret. Tinder eliminated the B.S. from the matchmaking part of dating. You have this double opt-in of people saying, “We’re interested. Let’s have a conversation.” And then there’s Secret. They’re creating a place for a new kind of communication that has people confess and get the emotional satisfaction of sharing. I have completely stopped reading Twitter and read Secret instead.
3. Which area of technology excites you most?
I like any technology that removes a middleman. The Internet is really good at creating efficiency around distribution and access, and pretty much since the beginning, it’s been eliminating middlemen. I’m not anti-jobs, but I love the idea of “adapt or die.” Libraries are all but extinct now because the Internet has replaced them in a better, more accessible way, with more content than a library could ever hold. Look at video stores and record stores.
I think this trend is going to continue forever until we’re going to be having conversations about places like Nordstrom and other big retailers. The need is not there to have a physical place. Anything that removes a middleman and gives me direct access to what I really want is beautiful.
4. What advice would you give to someone who wants to do what you do?
The two most valuable skills in business are resilience and the ability to learn quickly. Resilience means you can get up over and over, and you start to lose the nerve endings in your face because you’ve been punched and punched. You keep getting up and getting up, but every time you get up, you learn. You can do anything if you hang on long enough.
5. What is the best advice you ever received?
You can’t win by playing someone else’s game; you have to play your own game. I don’t follow any of our competitors on Twitter. I don’t look at my competitor’s stuff and think, “We should be doing that.” I can only win my game at my own pace. You’re only competing against yourself, especially in the space we’re in. There won’t be one “winner take all.” I try to stay focused by setting my own goals, and I won’t be distracted by someone else’s rules.
6. What’s the next big project you want to tackle?
Personally, I am interested in anytime there’s unmapped data that can and should be mapped to make people’s lives better. One of the things I’m really excited about is sizing. I am not a normal shape; I’m a little bigger up top, and I have shorter legs. It’s hard for me to buy clothing on the Internet because I don’t know if it’s going to fit. Well, there’s data out there about the dimensions of the garment, and I know what my dimensions are, so why isn’t there a more standardized way to shop for apparel online? I would like to tackle that problem and create some sort of a common language around sizing. How cool would it be to shop the entire Internet for something we know is going to fit?
7. If you could have done anything differently in your career, what would it have been?
I wish I’d worked at another startup before founding this one so that I wouldn’t have to learn everything the hard way. I would love to have studied under a great leader and see organizational design and how to reinforce culture and goal setting. I’ve had to make all this up, so it would have been nice to go through that schooling ahead of time.
8. What is one goal – either personal or professional — that you would like to accomplish during your lifetime?
Something I’ve always wanted is to buy my mom a house one day. She lives in Oklahoma City.
9. What was the last book you read?
I have a two year old, so I’ve been reconnecting with a lot of youth literature like Shel Silverstein. It’s amazing, his ability to take his mind to a place and be there and invent something from nothing over and over. I think I always just geek out when someone’s creating something from nothing. I’ve been making my way through Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series; it’s this epic that he’s been creating over the course of his career, releasing one volume years apart from another one. It’s not a horror story. It’s more like a modern Lord of the Rings. It blows my mind, the landscape that he’s able to create and the depth of characters and how complex and detailed everything is. It’s really motivating and inspiring.
10. What is one unique or quirky habit that you have?
I love things that are so bad that they’re good. So I kind of get obsessed with things that I hate. Not truly hate, but like Honey Boo Boo. It’s so dumb, but I love her show because it’s so stupid. I love terrible movies too. Like Troll 2 is the worst movie of all time, but it’s so good. I love it. Or like this website everythingisterrible.com. It’s basically where ‘80s and ‘90s VHS tapes go to die and be reborn as mind snacks for me.
More from Fortune’s 10 Questions series: