Manish Chandra, 51, dresses the part of a Silicon Valley engineer turned fashion app CEO, pairing his Louis Vuitton belt and Tommy Bahama dress shirt with Adidas NMD sneakers. He bought them all on Poshmark, the social shopping app he co-founded with Tracy Sun (in charge of new markets), Gautam Golwala (CTO) and Chetan Pungaliya (engineering chief). “My first job was working for Intel building databases for semiconductors, and today I help men and women sell shoes,” Chandra says. “Only in Silicon Valley can you have that journey over the course of 30 years.”
It’s an increasingly lucrative trip, largely because of Poshmark, in which Chandra has an estimated 15 percent stake. Poshmark started in 2011 as a way for women to sell extra items from their closets—an eBay for used clothing. It’s now becoming more than that, selling new clothes too, complete with its own wholesale market and fashion entrepreneurs. The company has carved out a niche that feels like window-shopping on a phone instead of the search-to-buy experience on Amazon. People follow each other’s virtual closets full of clothes for sale—a mix of pre-worn and boutique items—and share what they find interesting. It’s a social network of 40 million people, akin to Instagram or Pinterest. The difference: Everything you see is for sale.
About 5 million users, are also sellers on the app. Poshmark, which is based in Redwood City, California, doesn’t hold any inventory; its users sell directly to each other. À la Etsy and eBay, the app has spawned small-scale entrepreneurs, whether professional resellers or bootstrap fashionistas with their own clothing labels. Poshmark takes a 20 percent cut from each sale, and revenue is expected to hit $140 million in 2018. The company, which has over 300 employees and plans to hire 100 more, remains unprofitable as it focuses on expanding into new categories (menswear and makeup) and internationally (Canada will be first). Poshmark has raised $160 million in venture financing at a recent valuation of $625 million, and its anticipated 70 percent revenue growth over 2017 (which matches its growth from 2016 to 2017) earned it a spot on Forbes’ Next Billion-Dollar Startups list.