Rent The Runway: Jenn Hyman


Whilst in her day job for a hotel chain, Jenn Hyman had an epiphany that the world is moving towards the experience economy. She built out an idea whilst at the company but then left to take a place at business school.

Whilst there she stumbled upon the idea of renting dresses to women online.

This is the story of how that business got off the ground. How taking action and hustling led to getting “lucky” and how they made their projected first years revenue in just 3 weeks.

Why should you listen?

Because this a great story of how a business gets started….

The idea coming from a normal everyday event, not being scared to contact hugely successful people in the industry to pitch ideas and the drive and hustle that leads to luck.

Added on top is the challenges Jenn faced being a female founder getting funding from VCs.

3 lessons…

– Keep your mind open to what’s going on around you, so that you connect ideas. In Jenn’s case her thinking about the experience economy and the work in her previous job connected with a fairly normal event – her sister buying a dress she couldn’t really afford.

– “What do we have to lose?” – Reach out to seemingly untouchable people in the markets you want to go into. Whether looking for advice or pitching an idea, just go for it.

– To validate your idea, nothing beats creating a minimum viable product and seeing people actually pay for your product or service.

Jenn Hyman got the idea for Rent the Runway in 2008, after she watched her sister overspend on a new dress rather than wear an old one to a party. Jenn and her business partner built a web site where women could rent designer dresses for a fraction of the retail price. As the company grew, they dealt with problems that many female entrepreneurs face, including patronizing investors and sexual harassment. Despite these challenges, Rent The Runway now rents dresses to nearly six million women and has a reported annual revenue of $100 million. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," we check back with Monica Mizrachi and her son Solomon who built EzPacking, a business that sells sets of clear squishy plastic packing cubes. (Original broadcast date: August 7, 2017.)