Rent the Runway and UBS' Project Entrepreneur set to expand thanks to $2 million grant
Project Entrepreneur, a collaborative project from the Rent the Runway Foundation and investment bank UBS which seeks to support female entrepreneurs and increase diversity in business has received an extra $2 million in funding from UBS and announced the 10 finalists for its 2018 pitch competition.
UBS’ latest contribution brings its total commitment to the project up to $5 million. The firm also provides programmatic and strategic support to the initiative.
“Startups led by all-male teams are four times more likely to receive funding than companies with one woman leader. This needs to change,” stated Jennifer Hyman, CEO and co-founder of Rent the Runway in a release, citing figures from a 2017 study on the gender pay gap in venture capital. “We are thrilled to continue to partner with UBS in breaking down the barriers for female founders by democratizing the knowledge, resources and networks necessary to build impactful companies.”
Project Entrepreneur’s current activities include the organization of the third annual Project Entrepreneur Intensive which will run in New York City from April 13-14. The event has invited 200 female-founded startups to attend a series of talks given by female industry leaders, including a keynote address from Arianna Huffington.
Among these 200 companies, Project Entrepreneur has also announced 10 who will present at the program’s live pitch competition final. The finalists cover a range of industries and include Bundl – a long-term baby item rental service, Bloomer Health Tech – a startup using advanced fabrics technology to innovate in women’s health, and NaturAll Club, which offers a subscription service for food-grade hair products.
Winners, singled out from an initial pool of 700 applicants from 219 US cities, will receive a $10,000 grant and participate in a five-week accelerator program at Rent the Runway HQ.
Since its launch in 2015, Project Entrepreneur has trained over 1,600 female entrepreneurs representing almost every US state and 25 industries, while also maintaining an ethnic diversity rate of 50% among applicants.
UBS’s partner in the project, the Rent the Runway Foundation, was launched by New York-based apparel rental platform Rent the Runway in 2015. Reflecting the company’s diverse staff profile – which is currently made up of 70% women and 71% minority or non-white employees – the foundation was set up to support female entrepreneurs in building their businesses.
As questions of corporate responsibility continue to have a growing influence on consumer choice, particularly among younger markets, philanthropic initiatives and ethical commitments such as the Rent the Runway Foundation are more important than ever for companies wishing to prove their principles.
In a similar vein, Sephora recently welcomed 13 female entrepreneurs to take part in its third annual Sephora Accelerate Cohort program, while Abercrombie & Fitch relaunched its corporate website at the end of last month, seeking to highlight its efforts in diversity and sustainability.
The live final of Project Entrepreneur’s 2018 pitch competition will take place on Saturday April 14, 2018.
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