NEW YORK, April 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS today announced the winners of the Project Entrepreneur venture competition. The three companies were among nearly 200 female founders who participated in a weekend-long intensive program, and were selected from 12 finalists who pitched their businesses to a panel of experts. The winners will each receive on-site training, education and mentorship as part of Project Entrepreneur's five-week business accelerator program hosted at Rent the Runway's New York offices, as well as individual cash prizes of $10,000 and premium BizSpark Plus, compliments of Microsoft Office. The winners are:
- Cake: Suelin Chen, founder (Boston): The easiest way to think about end of life
- Full Harvest Technologies: Christine Moseley, founder (San Francisco): A B2B platform that helps growers bring their excess produce to market
- Komae: Audrey Wallace, founder, and Amy Husted, co-founder (Akron): An app allowing parents to exchange free babysitting with friends
"I know I speak for all the panelists when I say this was an extremely difficult decision given the huge display of innovation in the room," said Jennifer Hyman, CEO and Co-founder of Rent the Runway. "All of the companies that pitched possess the solid foundations and drive necessary to disrupt their respective industries, proving further that women can change the world!"
The Project Entrepreneur Accelerator Program, hosted within Rent the Runway's office in New York City, will allow the winning teams to learn from RTR employees who are in the trenches of a start-up and problem solving on a day-to-day basis. Each team will receive focused mentorship, direct coaching, introductions to investors, and access to the deep network that is the New York City startup community, among other benefits.
"We can't wait for the winning teams to work alongside us in our office, putting into action everything they learned this weekend to scale their businesses and bring their visions to life," added Jennifer Fleiss, Co-founder of Rent the Runway.
In addition to the three companies that will become a part of the accelerator at Rent the Runway, designer Rebecca Minkoff who was part of the judging panel for the Project Entrepreneur competition, announced that she has invited the team from Claire to be accelerated at the offices of her company. Claire, co-founded by Marta Jamrozik and Misha (Michael) Laskin, is a data company for fashion that helps fashion brands and retailers figure out what to sell next, and how to price it.
The pitch competition was the culmination of the Project Entrepreneur Weekend Intensive held at the Conrad Hotel. The program hosted nearly 200 women founders and co-founders for sessions exploring the many aspects of refining and scaling a business. The weekend included participation by some of New York City's most successful female business owners and leaders, including Alexandra Wilkis Wilson (Gilt Group and Glamsquad), Susan McPherson (McPherson Strategies), Bethenny Frankel (Skinnygirl), Hilary Folger (Lippincott), Angela Lee (37Angels), Jerri Chou (The Feast), Jules Miller (Hire an Esquire), Laura Gomez (Atipica), Nnamdi Okike (645 Ventures), Nnena Ukuku (Venture Gained Legal), Sarika Doshi (Rank & Style) and Steve Anastos (Bain Capital).
"From the entrepreneurial talent, to the networking, to the incredible speakers and interactive sessions, the entire weekend was a huge success and exceeded our expectations," said Lori Feinsilver, UBS Head of Community Affairs & Executive Communications, Americas. "All of us at UBS are proud to be a part of these women's journeys, and excited for what the future holds for the entire Project Entrepreneur Class of 2016!"
The winning companies were chosen by a panel of experts which included:
- Jennifer Hyman, CEO and Co-founder of Rent the Runway
- Jennifer Fleiss, Co-founder of Rent the Runway
- Janine Shelffo, Co-Head of TMT, UBS Investment Bank
- Susan Lyne, President & Founder of BBG Ventures
- Carley Roney, Co-founder of The Knot (XO Group)
- Rebecca Minkoff, Co-founder & Creative Director of Rebecca Minkoff
- Katherine L. Oliver, Principal at Bloomberg Associates
- Anu Duggal, Founding Partner at F Cubed (Female Founders Fund)
For the full agenda and list of attendees and community advisors who participated in the New York event, click here.
Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS joined forces in September of 2015 to launch Project Entrepreneur, a program the two organizations designed to address the fact that while women are starting more businesses than ever before, only a small fraction — four percent — generate $500K or more in annual revenue1; women also count for less than 10% of founders at high-growth firms.2 In addition to the venture competition, accelerator program and weekend intensive, the Project Entrepreneur initiative also includes multi-city events and a digital resource hub that includes content developed by leading business school faculty and industry professionals. Additional support for Project Entrepreneur is provided by Microsoft Office (including the winners' premium BizSpark Plus, with $120,000 of Azure cloud credits), and Mashable is its Official Media Partner.
ABOUT PROJECT ENTREPRENEUR:
Launched in 2015 by The Rent the Runway Foundation in partnership with UBS, Project Entrepreneur ignites bold ideas by providing women with access to the tools, training and networks needed to build scalable, economically impactful companies. The multi-faceted national initiative includes a venture competition, 5-week accelerator program, robust digital hub, and multi-city events. For more information, visit http://projectentrepreneur.org/.
ABOUT RENT THE RUNWAY:
Rent the Runway is revolutionizing fashion by allowing millions of women to rent designer apparel and accessories. The company focuses on convenience and a top-notch customer experience on all of its platforms, including online, mobile and retail locations in Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Las Vegas. With styles from hundreds of top designers, RTR serves as a powerful marketing channel for the fashion industry, introducing a new generation of women to brands that they had limited access to before. Co-founded in 2009 by Harvard Business School graduates, Rent the Runway has raised over $126 million in venture capital and has more than 5 million members across the U.S.
UBS is committed to providing private, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as retail clients in Switzerland, with superior financial advice and solutions while generating attractive and sustainable returns for shareholders. Its strategy centers on its Wealth Management and Wealth Management Americas businesses and its leading universal bank in Switzerland, complemented by its Global Asset Management business and its Investment Bank. These businesses share three key characteristics: they benefit from a strong competitive position in their targeted markets, are capital-efficient, and offer a superior structural growth and profitability outlook. UBS's strategy builds on the strengths of all of its businesses and focuses its efforts on areas in which it excels, while seeking to capitalize on the compelling growth prospects in the businesses and regions in which it operates. Capital strength is the foundation of its success.
Additional support for Project Entrepreneur is provided by Microsoft Office (including the winners' premium BizSpark Plus, with $120,000 of Azure cloud credits), the CAA Foundation and Mashable is its Official Media Partner.
1 According to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report
2 According to November 2014 Kauffman Foundation Report, Sources of Economic Hope: Women Entrepreneurship
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SOURCE Rent the Runway