The Rundown: #PEIntensive18

#PEIntensive18, female founders, New York, NYC, PEIntensive, UBS, underrepresented founders, Venture Competition

On April 13-14, Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS hosted 200 female founders in New York City for the third annual Project Entrepreneur Intensive. For two full days, the #PEClassOf2018 took part in hands-on workshops and connected with fellow founders, as well as mentors and investors.

The weekend ended on a high note, culminating in the third annual PE Venture Competition. Twelve female founders pitched their business ventures to a group of investors, and five winners each received a $10,000 grant, $5,000 worth of legal services from Cooley LLP, and a spot in Project Entrepreneur’s five-week accelerator program to be hosted at Rent the Runway’s New York headquarters this summer.

The Intensive kicked off on April 13 with opening remarks from Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, Co-Founders of Rent the Runway. Jenn and Jenny shared their excitement about bringing 200 female founders together for the third time, and their continued commitment to leveling the playing field for female founders. “We believe 50 percent of [business] leaders should be women,” the pair said during their remarks. They also gave advice to female founders who feel less than confident about scaling their businesses, considering all the odds stacked against them: “You just have to jump into the deep end of the pool and do something. You’ve got to put one foot in front of the other.”

Project Entrepreneur’s Founding Partner UBS also gave opening remarks to the women entrepreneurs in attendance. Jamie Sears, UBS Head of Community Affairs & Corporate Responsibility, Americas, shared UBS’ commitment to the female founders in the room. “The face of entrepreneurship is changing,” said Sears. “We’re so proud to be standing by your side as you continue to embark on this [entrepreneurship] journey.”

Day One of #PEIntensive18 was packed with one, but two amazing keynote presentations featuring established female founders in conversation with Rent the Runway Co-Founders Jenny Fleiss and Jenn Hyman.

First, Jenny Fleiss spoke with Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-Founders of GILT Groupe, about the dynamics of the co-founder relationship and building out one’s founding team. Alexis and Alexandra, who were great friends before they co-founded GILT (and who remain good friends to this day), shared tidbits of their personal experience building the company, especially in the early days. Their biggest piece of advice: be clear about who’s doing what.

“I think when co-founding relationships can get tricky is when roles aren’t defined and skill sets are similar. Making sure roles are very clear certainly helps the interpersonal dynamics,” said Alexandra. “Get it on paper ASAP, [and] be as thorough as you can. The agreement can always be revisited over time,” added Alexis.



Everyone within earshot was completely taken with the second keynote speaker, HuffPost Founder and Thrive Founder and CEO Arianna Huffington! Arianna spoke candidly with Jenn Hyman about everything from her childhood in Greece, to her tips for prioritizing a good night’s sleep. Arianna also shared sage advice with female founders who may feel pressured to overexert themselves as they build their companies. “If you try to do everything yourself…you will burn out. Every hiring mistake I’ve made, I’ve made because I was tired. When you’re tired, you’re going to ignore the red flags.”


For two full days, female founders also workshopped their businesses with their peers and with amazing mentors and investors who led informative, hands-on sessions. Amazing experts at Rent the Runway and UBS, Karen Cahn of iFundWomen, Ramona Ortega of My Money My Future,  Rachel Drori of Daily Harvest, KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson of Mented Cosmetics, Carley Roney, Co-Founder of The Know, and Jacqui Canney, Chief People Officer at Walmart, all shared actionable strategies for female founders to take their companies to the next level.

The 200 female founders in attendance at #PEIntensive18 gained helpful insight into the nuts and bolts of scaling their companies. Here are a few of their favorite moments from the 2018 PE Intensive:

And of course, the weekend ended with hearing amazing pitches and announcing the winners of this year’s PE Venture Competition.


Congratulations again to all the winners—learn more about the five winning companies in our Meet The Winners post, and follow Project Entrepreneur on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep up with the winning companies as they enter the PE Accelerator at Rent the Runway this summer.

Featured image photo credit: Amanda Gentile