Two innovative e-commerce start-ups to watch from Y-Combinator

Causing a stir

Twice yearly, new startups and VC funds gather at the offices of Mountain View-based startup accelerator Y Combinator for a ‘demo day’ aimed at discovering the hot new companies in the tech space. This year, 66 startups covering a wide range of sectors, from e-commerce to social networking to gaming, turned up hoping to prove they have what it takes to disrupt the market and make big money. The following two are causing a particular stir in the e-commerce sector:  

Shoptiques is hoping to disrupt the $20 billion boutique shopping industry. The site basically operates as a retail aggregator, allowing boutiques from any city globally to show their wares, with the two parties sharing revenue. Shoptiques is unique because it offers a location aspect, allowing shoppers to search for goods based on location. The site came out of beta early in March and currently has boutiques in a dozen US cities, including New York and San Francisco. Founder Olga Vidisheva is also experimenting with curation, putting together looks based on fashion trends based on the items available for sale. But it will need to build on this and expand to more markets and countries if it wants to redefine the boutique shopping experience online.

Described as “crack for women” by one of its founders Nikki Durkin, 99dresses lets women swap clothes using virtual currency. The premise is simple: users upload items, rate their quality and then assign prices in the 99dresses currency ‘buttons’. Anyone wanting to buy items has to do so via buttons, which can be purchased for $1 each if the buyer doesn’t have any. Durkin is facing some stiff competition in the form of eBay, but she hopes that her system will create a closed retail site that will feel like a social network and draw users in.

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