28. Rent the Runway

Nice dress. Can I borrow it?

Jennifer Fleiss (left) and Jennifer Hyman, co-founders of Rent the Runway
Source: Rent the Runway
Jennifer Fleiss (left) and Jennifer Hyman, co-founders of Rent the Runway

Founders: Jennifer Fleiss, Jennifer Hyman
Date launched: 2009
Funding: $114.4 million (Source: CrunchBase)
Industries disrupted: Fashion, retail, e-commerce

Rent the Runway co-founder and CEO Jennifer Hyman has a vision for her company that can potentially make women swoon. In addition to giving them the ability to rent designer apparel and accessories for a fraction of their retail price through RTR's website, Hyman envisions a day (not too far off) when they can arrive at a hotel for a vacation or business trip and find the closet already filled with clothes they pre-rented from her company.


She revealed her thoughts in March while speaking at the South by Southwest tech conference in Austin, Texas. In the meantime, the company she co-founded in 2009 with Harvard Business School classmate Jennifer Fleiss has attracted 5 million shoppers and more than $114 million in venture financing from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Highland Capital, Bain Capital and Novel TMT.

The concept is simple: Customers choose a dress, rent it for a few days and then send it back to the company in a prepaid envelope. Want to wear a Carolina Herrera gown that retails for more than $3,400? Now you can, for $125. This formula is projected to bring in revenues of $80 million this year, up from the roughly $50 million it rang up in 2014. There are five Rent the Runway retail locations around the country—in New York City, Chicago, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C. The company has plans to add another 10 over the next few years.

"Consumers were beginning to favor access and experiences over ownership, yet their closets looked the same as they had for decades. I wanted to change the way women get dressed ... elevate a woman’s current wardrobe and add some thrill to the everyday." -Jennifer Hyman, co-founder and CEO

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