Before starting Rent the Runway, Jennifer Hyman was director of business development at IMG, worked in ad sales at WeddingChannel.com and served as an in-house entrepreneur for Starwood Hotels.
On Thanksgiving break from Harvard Business School, Hyman stayed with her sister in New York. Her sister had just bought an expensive dress for a wedding even though her closet was already filled with options. Hyman realized that social media had made re-wearing dresses an unappealing idea and that there might be a way to save her sister from buying new dresses and crowding her closet, again and again. The answer was to challenge the idea of ownership. In 2009, Hyman started Rent the Runway with a classmate from Harvard Business School. Using technology, Hyman’s company makes the rental of designer dresses and accessories convenient and affordable. The New York Times called it “a Netflix model for couture.”
By April 2019, Hyman and her co-founder, Jenny Fleiss, had raised approximately $541.2 million in venture capital funding for Rent the Runway. They have 5 million members and 287 employees. Fast Company named Hyman “the most influential woman in technology,” while Forbes included her on their list of the “most disruptive names in the business.”