99Dresses is e-commerce “crack for women”

NOTE: GrowthBeat -- VentureBeat's provocative new marketing-tech event -- is a week away! We've gathered the best and brightest to explore the data, apps, and science of successful marketing. Get the full scoop here, and grab your tickets while they last.

99Dresses co-founder Nikki Durkin describes her company as an enabler to one of the world’s most powerful drugs: shopping.

“I have created crack for women,” said Durkin at today’s Y Combinator Demo Day.

The company allows women to upload items of clothing to the website, rate the quality, and then assign prices. But prices aren’t in dollars, they’re in a 99Dresses currency called “buttons.” Buttons can be purchased for a dollar each, and can only be spent on the website. This creates a closed-loop e-commerce environment that the founders hope will feel like a social network.

Thus far, 4,500 dresses have been uploaded to the website.

But how do you constantly monitor the quality of clothing going through the system? Co-founder Peter Delahunty explained to VentureBeat that 99Dresses is really relying on its community. The company encourages users to sign up through Facebook to create a sense of accountability. If a damaged item of clothing does change hands, however, the company will work with that customer to return her money, as well as note the issue in the seller’s history.

Poshmark, a mobile application, provides a similar service to 99Dresses. It also attempts to create a community around selling fashion, but does not have its own currency. Instead, it does this by only allowing people to buy items from “posh parties,” or e-commerce trunk shows that are held around a specific genre of fashion.

We're studying digital marketing compensation: how much companies pay CMOs, CDOs, VPs of marketing, and more, with ChiefDigitalOfficer. Help us out by filling out the survey, and we'll share the results with you.