Rent the Runway Founders Pay It Forward

jennifer-hyman-jennifer-fleiss-rent-the-runwaymaxw618q100Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss know a thing or two about entrepreneurship. The Harvard Business School grads cofounded the fashion-rental service Rent the Runway, one of the most buzzed-about startups of the past few years (with $80 million in revenue projected for 2015), and now they’d like to help other women follow in their footsteps.In partnership with UBS, Rent the Runway recently announced the launch of Project Entrepreneur, an initiative to “provide women entrepreneurs nationwide with the tools to build high-growth, high-impact businesses.” The initiative includes a venture competition for women entrepreneurs and a five-week accelerator program for the three winning teams to emerge from that competition. Rent the Runway will also be hosting free summits in three U.S. cities where female entrepreneurs can workshop their business ideas.“We’ve always been encouraging of female entrepreneurs and always hoped to find the right way and moment to pay it forward,” Fleiss told WWD. “Speaking to our customers, we realized that they identify RTR as a brand of female empowerment. We thought, here’s an opportunity to put more momentum and power behind that.”Project Entrepreneur is the first initiative of the Rent the Runway Foundation, which was also launched with last week’s announcement. Broadly speaking, the foundation’s mission is to inspire female entrepreneurs, but it’s clear Hyman and Fleiss are aiming for more than that—they want to inspire female entrepreneurs to think big.“When [women] do start a company, they don’t go for the billion-dollar idea,” Fleiss told Fast Company. “They go after the $50 million or $100 million idea, which is not how VCs have in the past funded companies. They are looking for the next Amazon or Uber.“We at Take The Lead would LOVE for a woman to found the next Amazon or Uber. Here’s hoping Rent the Runway’s new program gives her the resources she needs to help her idea take off!