Q&A With Rent The Runway CEO & Co-Founder Jennifer Hyman

Lisa Schulman

In an effort to create the most valuable and unforgettable event possible, we did not simply find successful leaders to speak at CCW Fall.

We identified true industry disruptors.  These individuals will share how they redefined markets -- and uncovered opportunities of which the competition was previously unaware.

One such disruptor is Jennifer Hyman, the CEO and Co-Founder of Rent The Runway.  She will be delivering the "Game Changer Keynote" at the event, which takes place October 16-19 at Horseshoe Bay Resort in Texas.  Get details now!

Ahead of the event, I conducted a brief interview with the disruptive executive:

What was your motivation for launching Rent the Runway and what are your main responsibilities?
I knew something had to change about the way we as women think about our closets when my sister Becky went into credit card debt buying a designer dress to wear to a wedding because she didn't want to be photographed in a dress she had already worn. There were already photos up on Facebook of her in those dresses and she didn't want to be caught in
the same outfit twice. I knew there was something to giving women access to an endless closet of incredible designer clothing for special occasions and everyday moments alike, and my co-founder and I got to work on Rent
the Runway immediately. We founded the company in 2009 and have since raised over $190 million in venture capital, grown the company to 6 million members, 1,100 employees (which is over 60% female and 70% minority) and 450 designer brands. As the Chief Executive Officer I set the strategic priorities and lead the company in growing all areas of the business, including marketing, technology, product, logistics and analytics.
Rent the Runway was named to the CNBC “Disruptor 50" list and Fast Company’s “Top 10 Most Innovative Companies.” Tell us about how you disrupted an industry and created a new model.
Rent the Runway has disrupted the $1.7 trillion global fashion industry by introducing clothing rental as a utility in women’s everyday lives and empowering women to feel like their best selves. In 2009 when Rent the Runway was founded consumers were already renting their music via Spotify booking their travel on AirBnb, and using Uber as a source of transportation. The area of our lives that hadn’t been updated to the 21st century was our closets. Rent the Runway has pioneered the Closet in the Cloud and we believe that every person globally will soon have a subscription to fashion and a portion of what we wear every day will be comprised of things we don’t have to own forever. Our mission is to democratize an industry by opening up access to millions of new customers.
In 2015, you launched a foundation with Jennifer Fleiss. Can you tell us about your foundation’s mission?
Today women account for less than 10 percent of founders at high-growth firms. I recognized this was unacceptable and launched Project Entrepreneur in 2015 to break down the barriers standing in the way of women building economically impactful and disruptive companies. Through Project Entrepreneur we have been able to provide thousands of female entrepreneurs access to the tools, training, and networks they need to scale their businesses. The program includes multi-city events, a venture competition and a 5-week accelerator program hosted at the Rent the Runway HQ. The companies incubated in the accelerator work side by side with the RTR team to bring their businesses to the next level.