We are pleased to announce that three NYU entrepreneurs have been invited into a group of 200 accomplished entrepreneurs to participate in Rent the Runway's 2018 Project Entrepreneur Venture Competition. Congratulations to Estee Goldschmidt of ShopDrop (Stern '17), Lia Winograd of Pepper (Stern '19) and Alyssa Petersel of My Wellbeing (Silver '17) on being selected!
According to a Rent the Runway Foundation blog post, Project Entrepreneur alumnae are founders from all over the United States, representing all industries, and have raised over $10 million for their companies as of December 2017. ShopDrop, My Wellbeing, and Pepper will have a shot at securing a spot in the $10,000 grant pitch competition and a seat in the 2018 Project Entrepreneur 5-Week Summer accelerator program.
Interviews with Estee, Lia and Alyssa reveal their emotions and the steps they plan to take as part of the Project Entrepreneur Venture Competition program this Spring.
What was your first thought when you received the acceptance email?
Estee: Holy F***. In all seriousness, when I apply to any program, I tell myself that we won't get in because the disappointment is too difficult to deal with. So my first reaction when I read the email was a very pleasant surprise.
Alyssa: First, "I can't wait for April." Second, "I am so proud to be a woman."
Lia: After pitching at Princeton's TigerLaunch last month (where only two of 16 startups were women-led) it was SO refreshing and exciting to hear that I would have the opportunity to meet and share my idea with WOMEN advisors in a relevant industry!
What does being part of the Rent the Runway Project Entrepreneur program mean to you and your startup?
Estee: Since the NYU Summer Launchpad, ShopDrop hasn't been part of any accelerator. We are excited to be in a structured environment again, rubbing shoulders with budding entrepreneurs, and developing new ways to grow our business.
Alyssa: Despite believing through and through in the vision and success of My Wellbeing—a pre-requisite for being an entrepreneur—being a founder in the early days can be trying and lonely. Becoming a part of the Rent the Runway PE program carries an affirmation and invitation to community, motivation, and light.
Lia: It means entering a community that values diversity and inclusion in the startup space.
What do you hope to get out of the Project Entrepreneur program?
Estee: I hope to make connections, friends, and most importantly get over the hurdle of 10K active users!
Alyssa: I hope to connect authentically with the cohort, meet insightful, available, long-term mentors and advisors, and take the next steps toward a $10k MRR.
Lia: Most VCs and accelerators in the city are heavily focused on tech. At the Rent the Runway Project Entrepreneur Program, I hope to come gain access to a network that's experienced in fashion and consumer goods.
What attracted you to the program?
Estee: The founders of the program are the founders of Rent The Runway—I think of them often when working on ShopDrop and am excited to be in a program they developed.
Alyssa: As a social worker, entrepreneur, and woman, few things make me happier than strong female leaders, particularly when such leaders are utilizing their expertise to create opportunities and lasting impact for others. I am so grateful for this opportunity to learn from the incredible women at Rent the Runway and Project Entrepreneur, as well as each of my fellow, inspired PE participants.
Lia: I heard the How I Built This Podcast on Jennifer Hyman and was moved by her story on the challenges she faced while raising VC money. Challenge is an understatement but listen to her podcast for more details. I knew then that surrounding ourselves with the right advisors was fundamental to our long-term success.
What advice do you have for others applying in the future?
Estee: Try to speak with someone on the inside—we chatted with Carmen Mercado while applying to get advice and polish our application.
Alyssa: Be daring and be yourself. Assume you deserve a spot at the table, because you do. Not because you are the prettiest, or the most perfect, but because you are strong, you believe in an idea that has promise, and you have hustle. And you'll get there. Even if not this specific time, or this specific opportunity... you'll get there.
Lia: I heard about the program through an information session at the Leslie Lab, so make sure to stay up-to-date with all of these amazing opportunities that randomly pop up!
To learn more about how the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute supports women entrepreneurs, check out the upcoming NYU Female Founders Symposium 'A Path Forward: Advancing Women in Startups & Steam" on Friday, April 13th at Two Sigma Ventures. RSVP here.
We are proud to highlight these NYU entrepreneurs as a part of our partnership with Blackstone LaunchPad and the #WeAreEntrepreneurs campaign.