An online auction site dedicated exclusively to *authentic* designer clothing and accessories.
Batch: 2013 Winter
Status: Successful


An online auction site dedicated exclusively to *authentic* designer clothing and accessories.
Batch: 2013 Winter
Status: Successful


No. The site is currently being migrated (from localhost development) to the cloud (Heroku + AWS).

Lollipuff is an online auction site dedicated exclusively to *authentic* designer clothing and accessories.

Our site uses unique safety precautions and processes that result in buyer and seller confidence. For instance, we developed a unique technique (patent in the works) to verify item’s authenticity and the seller’s physical possession of it. This technique is used in conjunction with humans.

We’re currently based in Durham, NC. Post-YC, we’re open (and inclined!) to relocate -- for example, to the Bay Area or Boston.


Fei (bebefuzz) and Travis (beambot): In Jan 2010, Travis and Fei set up a blog ( Fei worked on the blog (part-time outside of work) for ~2 years. It morphed into a pseudo-auction site that resulted in over $60,000 worth of transactions (not including affiliate or ad revenue) -- which inspired this company!

Travis (beambot): During my PhD I designed, constructed, and/or programmed three human-scale mobile robots (EL-E, Cody, and the PR-2) and was an early contributor to the open-source Robot Operating System (ROS). I pulled off an autonomous, sensor-driven robot demo on live TV (CNN) -- a rare (and gutsy!) move in the robotics world.

Fei (bebefuzz): According to power industry veterans, I was the youngest ever regional sales director in the power automation industry -- doubly impressive as a woman (rare!) in a male-dominated industry.

David (dmohs): I am passionate about writing software that makes its users' lives better. At Sandia National Laboratories, I took over an ailing project to help counterintelligence personnel protect classified information. Working closely with these users, I built a new version of the existing application from scratch which was much more responsive and easier to use than anything they had seen previously. At the end of the project, the users were happier, more productive, and had become advocates for good software design.

Travis (beambot): I got 5 professors to sign off on my dissertation. Seriously, it was the most difficult part of a PhD. It took 6 months just to get them in a room together.

Fei (bebefuzz): In grade school, I made money by selling rosewater and chives door to door, and (redacted, sorry).

David (dmohs): In high school, I received a ticket for not stopping at a stop sign before the intersection. I took pictures from various distances and proved to the judge, mathematically, that it would have been impossible to stop earlier than I did. The ticket was thrown out.

Travis (beambot) & Fei (bebefuzz): We met in AP Chemistry in high school. We’ve known each other for 12 years, been a couple for 11, and married for 3.

Travis (beambot) & Dave (dmohs): We’ve been close friends since we both worked at Sandia National Labs (Livermore, CA) in 2005. Travis introduced Dave to LISP; he caught the bug and left for ITA Software in Boston.

All founders are willing to pursue Lollipuff exclusively for YC (and beyond!). Travis will leave his Duke University postdoc, and Dave will leave Google. Fei already quit her job in June 2012 to pursue Lollipuff full time.


The test blog is 1.5 years old. The blog has facilitated over 200 sales, with approximately 750 bidders/buyers/sellers. We have approximately 2000 people/email addresses who contacted us through the blog. If we launched, we estimate a conservative 500 accounts will be created almost immediately.

The new, automated website ( will launch in late-October, 2012.

The proof of concept evolved from a blog (, which was started in January 2011. The new effort (automated, multiple designers, own brand) started in late-June 2012.

Our Django application has ~5 kloc python (application code), ~1 kloc javascript, and ~3 kloc HTML / CSS. We also rely heavily on several third-party open source libraries.


Fei is a respected authentication expert for several brands.** Her blog morphed into a pseudo-auction site for authentic Herve Leger clothes (a single brand!). It attracted a healthy community of bidders (buyers) and sellers, completed more than 200 successful transactions (>$60,000), and (redacted). However, the current site represents a single (small!) brand, there’s a 1.5-2.0 month wait list, and everything is done by hand (inputting items, email communications, and Excel tracking) -- yet sellers are clamoring to get on the list and keep asking us to add more brands!

** She has provided third-party testimony in eBay and PayPal disputes and is a well known authentication expert in the online forum communities.

Our auction site emphasizes authenticity and safer selling and buying of designer items. We have a unique technique (patent in the works) to help verify an item’s authenticity and the seller’s physical possession of it. This dramatically reduces scams for both buyers and sellers.

Current online auctions only rely on a feedback system. This is not adequate, especially when (for some brands) over half of all items sold are fake! (Most buyers are not expert authenticators.)

eBay, Bonanza, HipSwap, ThreadFlip

We fear eBay the most. However, Ebay is built around a broad, general audience. Our authentication process isn’t necessary for the bulk of their listings (eg. sub-$100 items). Our site targets eBay’s underserved luxury good niche -- starting with women’s designer clothes.

Buying and selling luxury goods online is very unique -- security, trust, and risk mitigation are tantamount. The process requires more care than a “general online auction listing.” EBay suffers from numerous issues: counterfeit items, inaccurate descriptions, insufficient photo evidence, photos culled from the net, reused photos from old listings, etc. These frequently lead to PayPal disputes -- which negatively impact everyone involved. Our system solves all of these problems. Of the 200 transactions on the test blog, we had fewer than 1% result in disputes (one out of 200!). Our system easily resolved this dispute: it provided the photographic (and temporal) evidence of the item’s pre-sale condition, expert testimony about its authenticity, and a baseline for comparison with the buyer’s received item. Collectively, these things make our process safer and more comfortable for all parties.

We charge a 7% commission on each sale. To start, Lollipuff will represent just 3 brands. Extrapolating Ebay’s completed listings for these three brands, there is more $77 Million in annual transactions ($5 Million revenue based on our commission). Ebay is undeserving of this niche. Many users refuse to use Ebay or other online sites for high-end items (ie. relying on consignment stores instead). In fact, we have several Ebay “power sellers” asking to use our services!

We plan to introduce additional designers / brands as we grow. Additional revenue will be generated by affiliates (eg. for brands not currently represented.)

Based on user participation on the blog, we anticipate a few hundred users from the test site will immediately join Lollipuff -- they’re the ones who have been clamoring for a new, automated and expanded site (and currently endure a 2-month wait list).

Fei has an impressive personal collection of luxury women’s clothing in our first three brands (roughly $35,000 MSRP). She has agreed to sell a large portion of her personal collection to seed the new site. We also have budding relationships with “power sellers” on Ebay who have expressed an interest in using our site upon launch.

Existing relationships with fashion blogs, sites, and forums should also enhance our exposure.


Currently a North Carolina LLC (redacted equity).


We didn’t have any other application ideas per se.

However... we do have ideas for auxiliary uses of our platform. Consignment shops (both online and off) often lack expertise in authenticating clients’ goods too. Using our authentication expertise, we could provide a service to such stores. The store could go through the authentication process in the same way as creating an auction listing. Instead of placing the item up for bid, we could generate a “certificate of authenticity” that could be displayed (and verified via a Lollipuff URL) to potential buyers. In this way, we become a trust service... much like the origins of “PayPal verified.”

-- Scammers and fakers hate us. We helped uncover a scam ring (selling counterfeit designer clothes) that was honeypotting Google servers [1]. If we’re pissing off the scammers and fakers, we must be doing something right!

-- Historically, Chanel bags have a stable rate of appreciation: 20% annually. This outperforms many stocks!

-- Approximately 70% of Herve Leger dresses sold on Ebay are fake.

-- Women think about fashion more than men think about sex [2]. (Travis & Dave: Seriously?!? Fei: Yep. Travis: Bummer.)


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