Rent the Runway Foundation And UBS Announce Finalists For Project Entrepreneur

150 Female-Founded Startups Selected to Participate in NYC Weekend Intensive

12 Startups to Take Part in Pitch Competition

Mar 10, 2016, 09:00 ET from Rent the Runway

NEW YORK, March 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS today announced the 150 female-founded startups that have been selected to participate in the Project Entrepreneur Weekend Intensive in New York City. Among this group are 12 companies that will pitch their businesses to a panel of experts for the chance to be in a five-week accelerator program hosted at Rent the Runway and receive a cash prize of $10,000.

The pitches will take place during the Project Entrepreneur Weekend Intensive at the Conrad Hotel in NYC on April 9-10, 2016 where finalists will join more than 150 women founders and co-founders, from 26 states, for sessions on actionable steps and resources to turn their companies into scalable, economically impactful companies.

"Our goal is to level the playing field so women entrepreneurs have the tools and opportunities necessary to build high-growth, high-impact companies," said Jennifer Hyman, CEO, Rent the Runway. "The Weekend Intensive and venture competition will bring us one step closer to this goal." 

"The female founders participating in Project Entrepreneur are among some of our country's most promising talent," said Lori Feinsilver, UBS Head of Community Affairs & Executive Communications, Americas. "Even more, 50% of the founders attending the April Intensive are ethnically diverse women.  To be a part of the changing face of the start-up community is inspiring, and we're excited for what the future holds for these ventures."

Finalists for the Project Entrepreneur pitch competition were chosen from nearly 500 entries.  The selected companies and founders from them who will present live on Sunday, April 10th include:

  • Adventurely, Mita Carriman, founder (NYC): Book tourist activities and find a travel buddy on-demand
  • Cake, Suelin Chen, founder (Boston): The easiest way to think about end of life
  • Claire, Marta Jamrozik, founder and Misha (Michael) Laskin, co-founder (NYC): A/B product testing for fashion brands
  • CortexMD, Kristine Pachuta, founder (NYC): A radiology decision science tool
  • Itsbyu, Caroline Strzalka, founder and Christine Strzalka, co-founder (NYC) - A DIY flower kit company
  • Mia Pielle New York, Atima Lui, founder, and Nancy Madrid, co-founder (NYC): Fashion in 6 shades of nude to match the range of diversity in women's skin
  • Pak'd, Rebecca Shoilton, founder (Chicago): Fresh, custom school lunches delivered to families' homes
  • PMS Bites, Tania Green, founder (Boston): Healthy and chocolaty snack delivery designed to curb PMS cravings
  • Queen of Raw, Stephanie Benedetto, founder (NYC) – Empowering designers to design smarter
  • Sodium Analyte Level Test (S.A.L.T.) LLC, Fon Powell, founder (NYC) - Empowering patients to self manage hypertension by measuring salt intake

Two additional teams will be determined during the Weekend Intensive.  

"We're looking forward to sharing practical skills from some of the best entrepreneurs in the space to help our participants take their businesses to the next level," added Jennifer Fleiss, Co-Founder of Rent the Runway.

The NYC weekend intensive will be hosted by Rent the Runway co-founders, Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, and Lori Feinsilver of UBS, and will showcase successful New York City-based female business owners and others who will share their knowledge about starting a business. Highlights include:

  • Bethenny Frankel, Founder & CEO, Skinnygirl, will keynote the Saturday Power Luncheon
  • Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-founder of Gilt Groupe & CEO/Co-founder of GlamSquad, will lead a workshop on branding
  • Carley Roney, Co-founder of and XO Group, will help women define their company's brand and value proposition
  • Satya Twena, CEO/Creative Director Satya Twena Fine Millinery, Makins Hats and Sol a Mer, will speak on crowdfunding
  • Designer Rebecca Minkoff, Susan Lyne, President, BBG Ventures at AOL, Janine Shelffo, Co-Head of TMT, UBS Investment Bank and others will judge finalists' presentations

For the full agenda and list of attendees and community advisors participating in the New York event, click here.

Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS joined forces in September of 2015 to launch Project Entrepreneur as a way to address the fact that while women are starting more businesses than ever before, only a small fraction — four percent to be exact — generate $500K or more in annual revenue1; women also count for less than 10% of founders at high-growth firms2 In addition to the venture competition, accelerator program and weekend intensive, the Project Entrepreneur initiative also includes a free digital resource hub and multi-city events. Additional support for Project Entrepreneur is provided by Microsoft Office and Mashable is its Official Media Partner.

Follow Project Entrepreneur on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and with the hashtag #PEIntensive16.

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

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.

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


SOURCE Rent the Runway