Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss co-founded Rent the Runway, a website that rents out high-end clothing and accessories, in 2008. The idea for the website came to Hyman when she witnessed her sister struggling to find a dress to wear to a wedding. As soon as Hyman returned from the Thanksgiving break, she told Fleiss, her section mate at Harvard Business School about her idea for the website. The two immediately started selling the concept to designers and customers.
The company successfully secured seed funding from Bain Capital Ventures and announced a new $24.4 million round of financing, led by Advance Publications, parent company of Condé Nast, in March of 2013.
More than just a place to rent clothes and accessories, Hyman describes Rent the Runway as an “experiential marketing engine” that exposes its customers to new designers and products. The company has no plans to actually sell these products, but directs consumers to brand and retailer websites where they can purchase these items.
In August 2010, Rent the Runway was named as one of the 50 best websites of 2010 by TIME magazine, followed by 2011 honours in Fast Company as one of the 10 most innovative fashion companies of the year. Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss were named in Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Under 30 and Fast Company’s Most Influential Women in Technology.