SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Two high school girls who know first-hand the high costs of attending proms and school dances have come up with an app to help other students save money on dresses by renting them.
Niska Ayyar and Riya Gupta, juniors at The Harker School in San Jose, created an app called PromElle which allows student to rent other students’ dresses, or rent out their own for money.
The two raised $50,000 from their family and friends to launch the app last year.
Ayyar and Gupta were partners in a business class at Harker when they were struck by the same dilemma: homecoming dances and proms were coming up they needed dresses, but the high costs put the ones they wanted out of reach.
“The guys on our court were able to go out and rent tuxes for a much cheaper price than we were buying our dresses for,” said Ayyar. “So I decided I need to go out and do something about this.”
With both their moms providing guidance and someone hired to help with the coding, the two friend created PromElle. The app lets users browse and rent prom dresses from their peers for a fraction of the price of buying one new.
Ayyar described an example from one the PromElle listings: “The original was $230. That’s what she would have bought it for when she originally got it. But whoever wants to rent it can rent it for $35.”
Gupta said they didn’t realize how big successful the app would become. “At first we thought that maybe this would just be a class project or something that we take to our business competition,” said Gupta.
But the idea was such a big hit it outgrew the classroom. PromElle hit the app store, it now has a growing user base of 550 – and it’s expanding.
“We remember getting the email that it was published and then going on the app store for the first time and searching PromElle seeing our app there,” said Gupta. “It was amazing.”
With the Bay Area right in the middle of prom season, the app is getting a workout. In fact, Ayyar and Gupta just celebrated their own junior prom and guess where they got their dresses from?
“I actually got my dress from the app and so did Nishka,” said Gupta. ”And we had 10 more people at our school rent for prom from the app.”
Both say it isn’t easy running a business and going to school at the same time. But they also say they are getting on-the-job business training that will help them well into their college careers and beyond.