New York, NY (April 17, 2018) – UBS and Rent the Runway Foundation have announced the winners of the third annual Project Entrepreneur (PE) venture competition. The five winning companies were among 200 female founders who participated in the two-day PE Intensive, and were selected from 12 finalists that pitched their businesses to a panel of investor judges. The winners will each receive a $10,000 grant, $5,000 worth of legal services from Cooley LLP and on-site training, introductions to investors, and mentorship as part of Project Entrepreneur’s five-week accelerator program hosted at Rent the Runway’s New York headquarters later this year.
The winners are:
- Entrada ESL - Erin Janklow, Founder & CEO (Washington, DC): Empowers service industry workers to learn English as they work, using audio & support systems
- Floss Bar - Eva Sadej, Co-Founder & CEO (New York, NY): Oral health reimagined through a convenient, affordable and fun way to get basic dental services in major cities
- Leche Lounge - Stephanie Conduff, Founder & CEO (Tulsa, OK): Portable lactation suites empowering women in the workplace by solving a legal mandate
- NaTakallam - Aline Sara, Co-Founder & CEO (New York, NY): Provides refugees/displaced people with an income by connecting them to remote language teaching and translation opportunities
- PathSpot Technologies - Christine Schindler, Co-Founder & CEO (New York, NY): Protects restaurants and their customers from the threat of food-borne illness
Also, Thrive Global, The Knot/XO Group and Walmart agreed to host several additional finalists.
Jennifer Hyman, Co-Founder and CEO of Rent the Runway and Co-Founder of Project Entrepreneur says: “This year's Project Entrepreneur winners represent innovation in an incredibly diverse range of industries, from healthcare and dental care to helping refugees to a language learning tool and beyond. The talent showcased by each has the potential to completely disrupt their fields and we look forward to working side by side with them this summer at the Rent the Runway headquarters.”
The 2018 Intensive was held shortly after a recent announcement of UBS's continued support for Project Entrepreneur through a $2 million additional grant, bringing the firm's to date commitment to $5 million. The program seeks to further enhance its offerings including expanding the Accelerator and increasing connections to investors and networks that will help participants accelerate the growth of their companies, leveling the playing field for female founders.
Jamie Sears, UBS Head of Community Affairs & Corporate Responsibility, Americas and Co-Founder of Project Entrepreneur says: “It is clear the future is female. Project Entrepreneur challenges the myth that there’s a lack of high-potential female founded companies. Since its launch, Project Entrepreneur has trained over 1,600 early-stage startups founded by an ethnically diverse group of women from nearly every state. Our alumnae have gone on to defy the odds and raise over $25 million for their ventures in just 3 years, and we are excited to see the continued impact the program will have in building the pipeline of female founders everywhere.”
Jenny Fleiss, Co-Founder of Rent the Runway and Co-Founder of Project Entrepreneur says: “Through Project Entrepreneur we aim to provide applicable guidance and resources needed by female founders as they work through the early stages of entrepreneurship. We look forward to connecting them with additional companies who are poised to provide guidance that will elevate and grow their businesses and help them think even bigger about their ideas.”
A highlight of the intensive included a moderated keynote conversation between Huff Post and Thrive Global founder, Arianna Huffington and Rent the Runway Co-Founder, Jennifer Hyman. Both spoke to the crowd about their guiding principles as successful entrepreneurs, being comfortable with failure, the importance of self-care and how celebrating the achievements of other women amplifies one’s own success.
The program hosted 200 women founders for sessions exploring the many aspects of refining and scaling their early-stage companies with a full lineup of successful startup founders and business leaders, including Alexandra Wilkis Wilson and Alexis Maybank (GILT Groupe), Carley Roney (The Knot/XO Group), Fran Hauser (Angel Investor), Alli McCartney and Rina Kupferschmid-Rojas (UBS), Jacqui Canney (Walmart), and Amanda Johnson and KJ Miller (Mented).
The winning companies of the venture competition were announced at the end of the Intensive and determined by a panel of experts which included:
- Hayley Barna, First Round Capital
- Sutian Dong, Female Founders Fund
- Erica Duignan Minnihan, 1000 Angels
- Susan Lyne, BBG Ventures
- Courtney Robinson, Advance Venture Partners
- Ellie Wheeler, Greycroft
Follow Project Entrepreneur on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @pjtentrepreneur, and with the hashtag #PEIntensive18. To learn more about UBS, follow @UBS on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
ABOUT PROJECT ENTREPRENEUR:
Project Entrepreneur is a collaboration between Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS Elevating Entrepreneurs, the firm's flagship philanthropic initiative committed to driving toward a more inclusive landscape for entrepreneurs everywhere.
Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS joined forces in September of 2015 to launch Project Entrepreneur, a program designed to address the fact that while women are starting more businesses than ever before, only a small fraction — three percent — generate $500K or more in annual revenue¹; women also account for less than 10% of founders at high-growth firms². In addition to the venture competition, accelerator program and two-day intensive, Project Entrepreneur also includes multi-city educational events, robust digital resources including #TheTools podcast and an online hub with education modules, feature articles, blog posts and inspirational stories from entrepreneurs.
Cooley is the pro bono legal partner of Project Entrepreneur. Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and its philanthropic arm The CAA Foundation, also worked closely with Rent the Runway and UBS to help bring Project Entrepreneur to life.
Project Entrepreneur is informed by its Community Advisors: Black Founders; HBCU Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Initiative; Latino Startup Alliance and Venture for America. Advisory Council members can be found at projectentrepreneur.org/about.
UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. UBS' strategy is centered on our leading global wealth management business and our premier universal bank in Switzerland, enhanced by Asset Management and the Investment Bank. The bank focuses on businesses that have a strong competitive position in their targeted markets, are capital efficient, and have an attractive long-term structural growth or profitability outlook.
UBS is present in all major financial centers worldwide. It has offices in 52 countries, with about 34% of its employees working in the Americas, 34% in Switzerland, 18% in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 14% in Asia Pacific. UBS Group AG employs approximately 61,000 people around the world. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
ABOUT RENT THE RUNWAY:
Rent the Runway is transforming the way modern women get dressed - and in turn disrupting the $1.7 trillion fashion industry - through the concept of renting over buying clothing. Founded in 2009 by Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, RTR pioneered the ‘closet in the cloud’ and believes that women everywhere will soon have a subscription to fashion, making renting an indispensable utility while also empowering them to feel like their best selves every day. RTR carries hundreds of thousands of pieces of apparel and accessories by 550+ designer partners with options for work, weekends and special occasions. The company has built proprietary technology, one-of-a-kind reverse logistics operation, and retail stores of the future that bring the dream closet to life. RTR has raised more than $210M from top-tier investors, has more than eight million users, and prides itself on the entrepreneurial, dream-big culture at the company which employs 1,200 people -- 70% of whom are women and 71% are minority/non-white. In 2015, the co-founders launched the Rent the Runway Foundation, supporting thousands of female entrepreneurs in building and scaling their businesses.
UBS Wealth Management USA
Maya Dillon, 212-713-3130 / 917-615-7094 (mobile)
Rent the Runway
Meaghan Gibbons, 212-524-6860 ext 114 / 401-248-8997 (mobile)