The New York Times describes Rent the Runway company as — "They are a disrupter. They have changed the dynamic of what goes on in the marketplace”
From an idea in Harvard business school to a top fashion company world. Once again, we see the role of young entrepreneurs in birthing world changing ideas in the consumer society.
Like Jenny Hyman, the CEO of Rent the Runway says, “You can have the life that you've always dreamed of having.”
Since co-founding Rent the Runway in 2009 after attending Harvard Business School, Hyman has gone on to raise over $500 million in funding, growing the business to over 11 million members and revolutionizing the $2.4 trillion fashion industry along the way.
But how did she do this? And what can entrepreneurs learn from it? All these and more in this article.
Plus, learn how to build a million dollar brand of your own with our FREE playbook.
|November 10th, 2009
|Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss
|Country of Origin
|New York, New York, United States
|Clothing, decor, accessories
What is Rent the Runway?
Rent the Runway is the premier subscription fashion service for everyday, work, weekends, events and beyond
Who founded Rent the Runway?
Rent the Runway was co-founded in 2009 by Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss.
What is Rent the Runway's origin story?
Rent the Runway's site was launched on November 10th, 2009.
Here's a brief summary from the company's page:
Over Thanksgiving break from college, Jenn’s younger sister Becky showed off a $2,000 designer dress she bought for a wedding. This splurge was sending her into credit card debt!
Jenn wondered, wouldn’t it be so much smarter if we could rent designer items rather than purchase them? She returned to Harvard Business School and shared the idea with her friend, Jenny.
Jenn and Jenny wondered if the fashion business would accept their idea. They sent Diane von Furstenberg an unsolicited email (why not start at the top?), and she agreed to meet.
They went into Diane's office and told her that they were the people who started Rent the Runway. Even though Diane was wary at first, she helped them with their business and gave them each a good luck charm.
Jenn, Jenny and Becky set up a pop-up shop on Havard’s campus where students could try on and rent dresses on the spot.
Seeing the excited reactions of their peers, it dawned on the team that renting could make women feel fabulous, solidifying RTR’s mission to empower women to feel their best every day.
Over a few months, Jenn and Jenny – along with a few core team members and a slew of interns – hustled to get the Rent the Runway website up and ready for business nationwide.
The site finally launched on November 10th, 2009.
After experimenting with 'shop in shops' at Henri Bendel in New York and The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, we opened our first-ever standalone store in the Flatiron building in New York City.
How was Rent the Runway funded?
Rent the Runway has raised a total funding of $326M over 12 rounds. Its first funding round was on Jul 15, 2009.
Its latest funding round was a Series E round on Oct 28, 2020, for an undisclosed figure. One investor participated in its latest round, led by Ares Management.
Other investors at Rent the Runway include Fidelity, Franklin Templeton, TCV, Bain Capital Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, American Express, and T. Rowe Capital
What is Rent the Runway's valuation?
Rent the Runway's valuation is estimated to be $360 million.
What lessons can entrepreneurs learn from Rent the Runway's brand story?
Below is advice to all entrepreneurs by Jenny Hyman: Don't just think that you can start something up because entrepreneurship sounds fantastic, and you want to work for yourself, and then four years later, you'll sell it for a billion dollars. That happens .0001% of the time. When something is actually successful, it's about a vocation. It's about, ‘Do you want to do this thing for potentially the rest of your life? Do you want to make this your contribution?’
What does Rent the Runway offer?
Rent the Runway is an e-commerce platform that allows users to rent, subscribe, or buy designer apparel and accessories. It offers shirts, pants, shorts, skirts, single-piece dresses, wedding wear, activewear, jewelry, handbags, sunglasses, and many more.
What type of clothing does Rent the Runway offer?
It offers a wide variety of clothing for women, including dresses, tops, bottoms, outerwear, and accessories.
Is Rent the Runway subscription-based?
Yes. This summer, you can Save $120 on 3 months of our 10-item plan with code SUMMERSTYLE23.
How does Rent the Runway manage inventory?
Rent the Runway uses many different inventory management tools and methods to ensure customers can choose from a wide range of high-quality clothes.
Here are some of the ways that Rent the Runway keeps track of its stock:
- Complex methods for managing reservations and inventory: the business uses these tools to assign clothes and handle shipping logistics.
- They use an inventory control system to plan when to ship different styles and sizes to their shops and customers.
- Exclusive ties with high-end designers: Rent the Runway works with high-end designers to keep a large and popular selection of clothes for their customers.
- Customers wear the clothes and then send them back to Rent the Runway, where they are cleaned, fixed, and made available for rent again.
- All of Rent the Runway's items go through a series of quality checks to make sure they are in the best shape possible when they are hired out to customers.
What is the cost of a Rent the Runway subscription?
The membership plan costs from $139/mo for two months to $104/mo for three months.
Rent the Runway is an excellent example of how entrepreneurs can use innovation, marketing and customer service to create a successful business. As a business owner, you should strive to implement these same strategies into your business.
If Rent the Runway's story inspires you to build a business that makes life easier for the specific kind of customer you want to serve, you’re in the right place. That’s the kind of business we help entrepreneurs build every day.
In fact, we’re on a mission to make one million new millionaires by 2028. We’d love YOU to be one of them.
That’s why we created this FREE playbook that will help you make your first million through a meaningful business that improves the world. Join us now and let's get started.