99dresses closes after financial problems

Summary:Online wardrobe swap site 99dresses.com has closed its doors after local founder and entrepreneur Nikki Durkin ran into multiple financial and technical headaches during 2011.

Online wardrobe swap site 99dresses.com has closed its doors after local founder and entrepreneur Nikki Durkin ran into multiple financial and technical headaches during 2011.

99dresses

Founder of 99dresses, Nikki Durkin, has posted an apology to users following the site's closure.
(Screenshot by Luke Hopewell/ZDNet Australia)

Durkin, 20, contacted site members late last week to inform them of the site's recent hardships, which include a lack of operating capital and a botched redesign.

"2011 wasn't a very good year for 99dresses. As you may have noticed I had a lot of trouble with the technology, made a lot of mistakes and could not fix these very expensive problems.

"I really screwed up. But what can I say? I gave it my best shot and, being only 20 years old, I have learnt a lot and realised that I would have been very fortunate for it to run to plan," Durkin said in her email to members.

"This is not goodbye," the 99dresses website read, following an immediate shuttering of the online clothes swap site that had recently got itself into the lucrative Y Combinator program.

Durkin said she is working on the new version of 99dresses for relaunch as soon as possible.

"I am not giving up. I've teamed up with a friend of mine, Pete (who is a bit of a rockstar techie), to keep working on 99dresses but from a different angle," she wrote.

The new site, however, will do away with the virtual currency of "buttons" that members used to buy clothing from others.

"The main problem with 99dresses in its current form was that whilst 'buttons' are super fun to trade with they don't generate enough cash to maintain the website and admin support. So really, if we want 99dresses to continue, the buttons have to go."

Durkin is offering refunds to users still with buttons in their account, or said users can choose to have their virtual currency rolled over into the new version of the 99dresses site into what's being re-branded as "closet credit".

The young entrepreneur offered disappointed members a sneak peek at the new format in an attached YouTube link.

The new site will allow users to upload and digitise their wardrobe to generate "the perfect outfit" and find clothes, shoes and accessories from other users to complete the outfit.

In a recent interview with ZDNet Australia, Durkin recently said that she is looking to challenge online auction giant, eBay, as the number one online fashion store.

Durkin still has this aspiration for herself and the site, saying in the preview video that she's looking to make the new 99dresses "everything that eBay is not for fashion".

"Thanks for sticking with me throughout last year. I made a lot of mistakes and really screwed up, but I'm still not giving up. I really want to change the way women consume fashion so this is my next attempt," Durkin added in her video.

Topics: E-Commerce, Start-Ups

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A fresh recruit onto the tech journalism battlefield, Luke Hopewell is eager to see some action. After a tour of duty in the belly of the Telstra beast, he is keen to report big stories on the enterprise beat. Drawing on past experience in radio, print and magazine, he plans to ask all the tough questions you want answered.

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