Announcing the Class of 2017

Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS today announced the 200 female-founded startups that have been selected to participate in the second annual Project Entrepreneur Intensive in New York City on April 7-8, 2017. Among this group are 12 companies that will pitch their businesses to a panel of investor judges for the chance to receive a $10,000 grant and participate in a five-week accelerator program hosted at Rent the Runway.

The PE Intensive will provide participating founders with the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs, investors and experts as they transform their early stage ventures into high-growth companies. Among the highlights of this year’s program will be a keynote conversation between Spanx CEO and Founder Sara Blakely and CNN’s Poppy Harlow, as well as sessions led by Carley Roney, Co-Founder of The Knot/XO Group; Marla Beck, CEO and Co-Founder of Bluemercury Inc.; and Hayley Barna, Venture Partner at First Round Capital and Co-Founder of Birchbox, among many others.

“We’re excited to have some of the most influential entrepreneurs in the country gathering together for our second year of the PE Intensive to give participants the resources they need to elevate and grow their businesses,” said Jennifer Fleiss, Co-Founder of Rent the Runway. “The connections they will make and insights gained from these two days will be invaluable as they begin to scale their companies.”

“Today women account for less than 10 percent of founders at high-growth firms. In 2017 this is completely unacceptable and we’re committed to breaking down the barriers standing in the way of women building economically impactful and disruptive companies,” said Jennifer Hyman, CEO and Co-Founder of Rent the Runway.

Finalists for the Project Entrepreneur pitch competition were chosen from nearly 650 applicants across 75 cities. The selected companies and founders who will present at the live pitch competition on Saturday, April 8 include:

  • CottageClass– Manisha Snoyer, Founder (Brooklyn, NY): DIY Marketplace for micro-schools
  • Curative Orthopaedics– Samantha Simmons, Founder & CEO (New York, NY): Comfortable orthopaedic garments clinically proven to help chronic pain sufferers sleep
  • Lace & Liberty– Danielle Wen, CEO & Co-Founder (San Francisco, CA): Merging direct-to-consumer convenience with luxury bespoke bridalwear
  • LOLI BEAUTY– Tina Hedges, Founder & CEO (New York, NY): Pure, Potent, Personalized…LOLI is the first BIY (Blend It Yourself) clean + green beauty brand
  • Parihug– Xyla Foxlin, Founder (Cleveland, OH): Internet-connected plush toys that let you hug loved ones from anywhere in the world
  • Parking Vision Information Technologies (ParkIt)– Jennifer Ding, CEO & Co-Founder (Dallas, TX): Smart camera technology using machine learning to collect real-time parking data to improve urban mobility
  • Reboundwear– Bimla Picot, Founder (New York, NY): Athleisure wear with a purpose
  • Repeat Roses– Jennifer Grove, Founder & CEO (New York, NY): Sustainable floral waste removal business that gives back to people and planet
  • The Mentor Method– Janice Omadeke, Founder (Washington D.C.): Career development platform empowering minorities in tech to learn to lead with confidence by connecting future leaders to career mentors from companies that want to increase their diverse hiring pipeline
  • The Touchpoint Solution –“Buzzies”– Vicki Mayo, CEO & Co-Founder (Scottsdale AZ): Neuroscience wearable that alleviates stress by altering the body’s stress response in as little as 30 seconds

Two additional companies will be chosen to pitch during the PE Intensive.

“These female founders are among the most promising and innovative entrepreneurs in the country, representing a wide breadth of industries,” said Lori Feinsilver, UBS Head of Community Affairs & Corporate Responsibility, Americas. “While they come to Project Entrepreneur with incredibly diverse professional and personal backgrounds, they all share a dream to drive their own success. They can take great inspiration from the experiences of last year’s winners — Full HarvestCake, Komae, and Claire — who have gone on to raise their first rounds of seed funding and have graduated to other selective accelerators. We’re proud to support this year’s founders on their journeys.”

Project Entrepreneur is a collaboration of Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS Elevating Entrepreneurs, the firm’s flagship philanthropic initiative committed to driving toward a more inclusive landscape for entrepreneurs everywhere. Mashable is the Official Media Partner for Project Entrepreneur. Cooley is the pro bono legal partner of Project Entrepreneur. Creative Artists Agency (CAA), and its philanthropic arm The CAA Foundation, also worked closely with Rent the Runway and UBS to help bring Project Entrepreneur to life.

Project Entrepreneur is informed by its Community Advisors: Black Founders; HBCU Innovation, Commercialization and Entrepreneurship Initiative; Latino Startup Alliance; and Venture for America. Advisory Council members can be found at:

For the full agenda and roster of speakers participating in the PE Intensive, click here. The full Project Entrepreneur Class of 2017 can be viewed here.

Follow Project Entrepreneur on FacebookInstagram and Twitter, and with the hashtag #PEIntensive17.