Rent the Runway and UBS Launch Venture Competition for Women
The startup scene is lacking diversity. That’s not an opinion; that is a fact. Project Entrepreneur, a foundation established by Rent the Runway and UBS, has set out to change all that, hitting the refresh button by launching its first annual venture competition. Three, disruptive female-led startups will be selected, and winners will receive $10,000 in funding along with an intensive accelerator program.
“There are so many passionate, entrepreneurial women founding businesses today, but only four percent of businesses that generate over $500K in annual revenue are owned by women ,” said Jennifer Hyman, CEO, Rent the Runway. “Project Entrepreneur offers the experience, training, and networks needed to ignite bold ideas and help women build economically impactful companies.”
Serving as the initiative’s centerpiece is its official startup competition for funding and an accelerator program. Online submissions for the Project Entrepreneur Venture Competition are open until January 8, 2016.
The top 200 finalists in the competition will be invited to attend a two-day Entrepreneurship Workshop weekend in New York City on April 9–10, 2016 where they will receive targeted support for their companies. The workshop will culminate in a live pitch where three winning teams will be selected by a panel of highly successful entrepreneurs and investors to receive a cash prize of $10,000 each and a spot in a five-week accelerator program hosted at Rent the Runway.
“We are thrilled to partner with Rent the Runway Foundation to bring women entrepreneurs the tangible tools they need to build high-growth businesses,” said Bob McCann, President Americas, UBS. “UBS has a legacy of supporting women-owned ventures, and we look forward to building on this legacy with Project Entrepreneur.”
The program is also a part of UBS Elevating Entrepreneurs, the firm’s flagship philanthropic initiative in this space.
To ensure the inclusion and engagement of women from a variety of backgrounds, Project Entrepreneur’s community advisors offer insight into specific opportunities and outreach to the populations they support, including Black Founders, HBCU Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Initiative, Latino Startup Alliance, Venture for America.
Furthering Project Entrepreneur’s commitment to developing high-growth, women-led companies, the program also features a digital resource hub on projectentrepreneur.org that includes educational sections focused on building and testing a minimum viable product, creating a growth strategy and funding. The hub also includes feature articles, blog posts and inspirational stories from established entrepreneurs.
To supplement the online resource center, a series of free educational summits are in the works, where attendees can workshop their business ideas with other smart, entrepreneurial women and hear keynote remarks by Rent the Runway co-founders, Jennifer Hyman or Jenny Fleiss, and Lori Feinsilver, Head of Community Affairs & Executive Communications, Americas at UBS, among many other leaders and experts.
Following the success of summits hosted in New York City and Austin, TX, a final summit in Washington D.C. is currently open for registration. Interested attendees can RSVP now for the event being hosted Saturday, November 14, Washington, DC from 1–5pm at Halcyon House.
Applicants can register for these summits at projectentrepreneur.org and meet other fellow female founders in the Project Entrepreneur Facebook group. Helpful videos, helping candidates prepare their business plans and applications can be viewed on the official Project Entrepreneur YouTube channel.
 2013 State of Women-Owned Business Report