Interview with 99dresses founder Nikki Durkin
Nikki Durkin spoke to GenHERation contributor Ricky Rajani about her experience as a startup founder and CEO. For more background information, here is a link to the article she wrote about 99dresses.
Nikki Durkin knew she was going to be an entrepreneur when most kids dreamed of becoming lawyers and doctors. She already had a successful startup selling t-shirts she designed herself at the age of 15. What did she do with the money she earned? Obviously what every female her age would do: shop…a lot. However, she found it to be inefficient to have all those clothes and not actually wear all of them. This is where the idea for her next endeavor first developed. At the age of 18, Durkin founded 99dresses, a site where users were able to swap unwanted clothesthrough a virtual currency called “buttons.” To her, entrepreneurship was never about the money. Rather, she was passionate about having a vision and solving problems. At the time, she knew that entrepreneurship involved risk-taking; however, being young made her less averse to the idea of failing.
How did a high school graduate know how to run a successful startup?
Durkin explained that she never hesitated to ask questions. Of course, it makes sense to seek help from people who have years of experience in the industry; however, she trusted her intuition over everything. Of course, she was naive because of her age, but in the end it was her intuition that helped her become successful.
What was it like being one of the few female startup founders in tech?
Interestingly, Durkin didn’t know that there was a wide gender gap in tech until it was pointed out to her. She had heard horrible stories; however, didn’t personally feel the sexism until she arrived in New York City. Up until then, being a female in tech was an advantage to her. But she didn’t let this affect her. Rather, she decided to brush off the problem and hurdle through. Her philosophy behind this was that the more one focused on the problem, the more one saw it everywhere. Durkin claims that we should talk more about the solutions rather than focusing on the problem.
What would she recommend to people who are trying to break into the startup world?
Her advice to future founders is to be in a relaxed and happy state when coming up with ideas. Not only that, but to have an idea that you’re truly passionate about and have a vision for what you want to create. Once you have an idea, don’t waste time planning when you can go out and actually create something; talk to customers and gain feedback on whether your product could be viable.
What is Nikki Durkin up to now?
Afte closing 99dresses, Durkin went back to live with her family in an Australian country town. Since then she has been busy generating ideas for potential startups and plans to jump back into the startup world in the future. However, her main priority at the moment is to travel and experience new cultures. “Maybe now I can be a normal 22 year old for a while: indulge my wanderlust and try something new.”