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Jennifer Hyman, Co-founder and CEO, Rent the Runway

#GSBVFTT#View From The Top#Rent The Runway#Leadership#Fashion#Entrepreneur#Jennifer Hyman#Cyerra Holmes#speaker series#rent the runway leadership#affordable fashion#business takeaways#gsb#the gsb#stanford gsb community#the stanford gsb experience#business insights#gsb transformative experience#higher education#stanford gsb takeaways#stanford gsb business school#stanford higher education#stanford mba#gsb mba#mba#stanford graduate school of business
18K views|1 years ago
💫 Short Summary

The speaker shares her upbringing caring for a disabled sister, emphasizing teamwork and support. She discusses creating Rent the Runway, facing challenges in the fashion industry, and adapting to consumer needs. Despite setbacks during the pandemic, the company innovated and eventually IPO'd. The importance of teamwork, resilience, and celebrating successes is highlighted, with a focus on building meaningful relationships and finding fulfillment in life beyond career achievements.renting clothes, The speaker also reflects on the value of teamwork and shared vision in business success, emphasizing the journey over the end goal for personal satisfaction. The video ends with a promo code offer and gratitude to the audience.

✨ Highlights
📊 Transcript
The speaker's personal story of caregiving for her disabled sister and its impact on her values and priorities.
01:41
The upbringing in a close-knit and loving family, including the challenges and responsibilities of caring for a severely disabled sibling.
The focus on team building and supporting loved ones as a result of the caregiving experience.
The financial and emotional strain of long-term caregiving, and the importance of recognizing the needs of family members with disabilities.
The impact of familial dynamics and the value of teamwork in navigating difficult situations, as highlighted in the speaker's story.
Positive outlook on life shaped by growing up with an autistic sibling in a loving environment.
03:46
Family embraced sibling Cherry, taking her everywhere without concern for others' opinions.
Leadership style influenced by turning challenges into positive experiences, focused on building teams and creating community.
Upbringing instilled empathy and desire to surround oneself with loved ones.
Successful career driven by passion for community and connection.
Speaker's journey from college graduation post-9/11 to pitching a honeymoon registry idea to the president of Starwood.
06:10
Travel industry struggles post-9/11 led speaker to join a travel company and identify an opportunity for honeymoon registries.
At 22, the speaker pitched the idea to the president of Starwood who showed interest, prompting the speaker to develop the wedding business within the company.
Despite not receiving a definitive answer, the speaker was motivated by the president's interest to pursue the idea further.
Importance of Influence in Leadership
09:20
Being likable and inspiring others is essential for effective leadership.
Leadership through influence is powerful and necessary for project execution.
Authority is limited in organizations, making influence crucial for progress.
Influential leadership shapes company culture and helps achieve goals.
Concept of a 'closet in the cloud' born from sister's credit card debt and desire for dynamic self-expression.
10:38
People value feeling awesome over owning physical assets, leading to the idea of a changing closet based on life, size, and mood.
Freedom of self-expression is achieved through access to a variety of clothing without ownership.
Speaker researched existing concepts before finalizing the idea of a dynamic closet.
Promoting renting clothes as a sustainable alternative to fast fashion.
12:44
Emphasizing the environmental impact of disposable fashion.
Proposing a tech-forward, personalized rental solution at an affordable price.
Discussing the existing market for clothing rental and the need for designer brands to participate.
Highlighting the importance of providing access to quality items for wardrobe variety.
Challenges faced by Rent the Runway founder in customer acquisition and designer brand engagement.
17:06
DVF emphasized the impact of fast fashion and changing consumer behavior on the fashion industry.
Younger demographics were not as interested in designer brands and physical retail visits were declining.
DVF faced high marketing costs and struggles with acquiring new customers.
Despite initial rejection, the meeting extended into a fruitful discussion where the founder gained valuable insights and experience.
Building brand affinity through networking and introductions with the next generation of consumers.
19:17
Diane von Furstenberg (DVF) provided valuable connections in the fashion industry, fostering trust and feedback for the business.
DVF became a key supporter despite initial doubts, highlighting the importance of listening and turning competitors into allies.
Getting brands on board was a gradual effort that required time and persistence.
Importance of adapting to feedback for business growth.
20:38
VC funding helped secure brand relationships and overcome bankruptcy.
Emphasizing the value proposition and positive feedback for success.
Sales skills are crucial for entrepreneurs, with anecdotes of harsh rejections from luxury brands.
Listening to feedback and modifying ideas is essential, with a case example from DVF.
Rent the Runway's success was driven by word-of-mouth marketing and offering aspirational brands at affordable rental prices.
23:35
The company focused on creating a comfortable and shareable environment for customers.
Overcoming initial customer hesitancy about wearing pre-owned clothing was a key challenge for Rent the Runway.
Continuous improvement in delivering value to customers and ensuring a positive experience over time was crucial for business growth.
Early adopters played a significant role in changing consumer behavior towards renting clothes.
Challenges of pitching the idea of renting clothes as a business model in 2008-2009.
25:12
Emphasizing the importance of a clear consumer value proposition.
Providing a luxury experience through various aspects of the service to create brand love and value for customers.
Leveraging their own story to generate earned media attention.
Targeting The New York Times before the business even launched as an unconventional approach.
Meeting with a fashion industry startup leads to unexpected success.
28:38
The founders of the startup wore ridiculous dresses for a photo which ended up on the front page of The New York Times website.
The publicity resulted in 100,000 sign-ups on day one and meeting first-year sales projections within three weeks.
Creating your own luck and hustling for opportunities are essential for entrepreneurship.
The experience showed that being proactive and seizing opportunities can lead to enjoyable and successful outcomes.
Challenges of Raising Money in a Male-Dominated VC Industry
29:57
Female entrepreneurs often face bias in funding, with only 2% of investment dollars going to women over the past 25 years.
The speaker shares her personal experience of being underestimated based on her gender, driving her determination to prove biases wrong.
It is crucial to address the gender disparity in funding to overcome systemic barriers faced by women and people of color in accessing venture capital funding.
Rent the Runway faces challenges during pandemic.
34:27
Revenue dropped by 80% due to decreased demand for variety in wardrobes.
Founder expresses love for company and team, emphasizing dedication.
Focus shifts to navigating turbulent times and ensuring future business success.
Managing a Crisis with Realism and Hope
35:45
The speaker emphasized the importance of staying grounded in reality while also providing hope to the team during a crisis.
Tough decisions had to be made, such as letting go of employees and restructuring the business to survive post-COVID.
The experience was both horrific and clarifying, leading to a more decisive version of the speaker.
Understanding the core business and making necessary cuts were highlighted as crucial for future sustainability.
Discussion on simplifying business during times of crisis and transforming products post-COVID.
39:23
Evolution of the fashion market and emphasis on the growth of circular fashion globally.
Rent the Runway's role in providing consumers with options in fashion consumption, similar to transportation choices.
Highlighting Rent the Runway's unique solution of rental rotation for wardrobe items, allowing subscribers to refresh their clothing options continuously.
Resale and rental models in the fashion industry.
41:35
Resale allows for leasing high utility items while ownership is for long-term use.
Rental provides the freedom to follow trends without owning the items.
Transitioning towards a 'closet in the cloud' concept for a significant portion of closets.
Rent the Runway stands out with their tech and logistics expertise in addition to being a fashion company.
Overcoming challenges and celebrating successes in business.
43:14
Revenue dropped to zero, requiring vulture capital to survive.
The business innovated and eventually IPO'd, a transformative experience.
Employees and alumni celebrated the IPO, inspired to dream bigger.
Importance of cherishing moments of celebration to fuel oneself forward.
Importance of Teamwork and Shared Vision in Business Success.
46:15
Emphasizing collective achievement over individual success.
Satisfaction in collaborating with others towards a common goal.
Personal perspective on success, focusing on sustainability and fulfillment in professional and personal aspects of life.
Highlighting the joy of working with others to create something meaningful and impactful.
Importance of focusing on the journey in life rather than just the end goal.
48:36
True happiness comes from enjoying the process, not just success and wealth.
Building meaningful relationships and communities is essential for personal satisfaction.
Encouragement to prioritize a holistic approach to life, considering what truly makes one happy beyond career achievements.
Evolution of Rent the Runway and Future Growth Potential
51:35
Rent the Runway has been in business for 15 years, with a focus on the female customer base but seeing a growing interest in men's fashion.
The company believes there is still significant untapped potential for growth in the market.
The speaker shares childhood dreams, advice for their younger self, and a fun clothing rental experience dressing up as Harry Styles with their daughter in a lightning round.
Promo code offered to GSB fans for subscription, including men, to show appreciation and support.
53:30
Jen expresses gratitude for the opportunity to be present and thanks the audience.
Applause and music accompany the conclusion of the segment.