Senior Abby Huang decided during her senior year of high school that she wanted to found a virtual marketplace start-up. Many iterations of her vision later, Huang and her team of Duke undergraduate and graduate students have launched Dime Marketplace, a platform designed for young creators to sell their products.
An April 15 event DJed by junior Sara Oike marked the official launch of Dime, a student-run start up that describes itself as an “end-to-end, technology-driven marketplace to empower students towards achieving financial independence” on its LinkedIn page.
“I never really wanted to focus on school. I wanted to focus on something I was passionate about—wanted to start my venture,” Huang said, describing her motivation to found Dime.
Dime, which Huang said is ultimately “a marketplace that showcases all of these really creative products that young people are producing.” has a diverse range of client businesses. Their two “larger clients,” Huang said, are Concrete Hills, a streetwear clothing brand founded by sophomore Drew Frank and his younger brother and Earth Cups, a compostable cup company started by student-athletes at Williams College.
Other products sold by the creators affiliated with Dime include handmade jewelry, specialized caffeine pills and nicotine-free vaping alternatives. Dime currently has seven client businesses, Huang said.
Dime’s April 15 launch party, which was hosted at an event space in Durham, allowed anyone free entry and featured music and drinks. Additionally, some of Dime’s client businesses set up booths to sell their products.
Junior Esther Hong, the founder of Petrichor Jewelry, said that her Instagram product drops usually sell out in a matter of minutes. While Dime’s launch party did not provide “quite as much traction” as her online sales, she said that it was rewarding because she was able to meet and sell to people who may never have seen her work before.
“[Dime] gave me this opportunity to jump out of this niche bubble I had created for myself. From that event, I got a bunch of new followers, and I feel like it stemmed a lot of new connections,” Hong said.
Frank shared a similar perspective on his decision to join Dime as a client business. While Concrete Hills has already established itself on a national level and has been worn by artists like Lil Yachty and Meek Mill, Frank felt that Dime was a great way to tap into the Duke community.
“It felt like this opportunity would do well to bring it to more Duke students who maybe hadn’t seen Concrete Hills or interacted with the brand,” Frank said.
While Frank wasn’t at the launch party, he commented that it seemed to be a “great success.”
“We sold a decent amount of sweatshirts and hats. I would have loved to have been there,” he said.
Senior Faith Joo, logistics lead at Dime, said that the launch party was a great way to “test the market, because we were able to showcase all of the really cool businesses that are part of our platform.”
While the event was an overall success, Joo and Huang said that events are not a sustainable business model for Dime and won’t be a focus for the brand in the coming months. “It was a money burner, but it got the word out,” Huang summarized.
Next steps for Dime include officially launching its website, which will go live next semester and allow users to browse and purchase products from vendors affiliated with the marketplace, and running an internship program for particularly promising campus ambassadors, who were selected earlier this year.
Dime’s first cohort focused on larger, more established businesses in order to establish credibility, but Joo said that they hope to eventually expand their business model and create an ecosystem that can help to propel smaller businesses started by talented young people.
While Huang has a full-time internship this summer, she is hoping that Dime won’t lose “all of the crazy momentum” it has had since the April launch party.
“There is a lot of great momentum. There are great ideas, a lot of potential revenue streams we can tap into,” she said. “People see a lot of potential in us and I’m very excited to see where this goes.”
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Anna Zolotor is a Trinity senior and recruitment chair for The Chronicle's 118th volume. She was previously news editor for Volume 117.