From The Desk of Jenny: So You’ve Got an Idea…

Each month we’ll be bringing you words to live by from entrepreneurs, businesswomen, influencers, and innovators . In the first edition, Rent the Runway co-founder, Jenny Fleiss, doles out her best advice on the do’s and dont’s of starting your own (successful) business.




You’ve Got a Business Idea – Now What?

(First steps to starting your own company) 

FORGET THE BUSINESS PLAN: I made a rule with Jenn, my cofounder and CEO of Rent the Runway, to never write a business plan. Instead of putting together a plan based on our hunches and assumptions, we went straight to testing our idea on the ground. After all, we were trying to promote the behavior of renting dresses, a completely foreign concept at the time; we had to actually allow women to experiment with renting in order to learn if our concept was feasible. We also met with everyone that would listen to us – designers, friends, professors, mentors – in order to gather feedback and suggestions and adapted our idea along the way.
DON’T BE INTIMIDATED BY WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW: Sometimes a little naiveté goes a long way in tackling the herculean tasks of entrepreneurship! Jenn and I had an idea to launch a fashion technology company, without either of us having any background in technology or fashion whatsoever. We knew we had to be honest with ourselves, recognize our own strengths and, more importantly, pinpoint where our skill-sets were lacking. So we set out to find an all-star team that would round out our strengths and help bring our idea into reality. As cliché as it sounds, you really are only as strong as the people you surround yourself with. At the end of the day, you really can’t be afraid to enter an industry in which you have no experience. I like to think that it is because Jenn and I had no experience in fashion that we were able to rethink some fundamental assumptions about the way the industry works and create an entire new category of rental.
FAILURE IS OKAY BUT FAIL FAST AND GET BACK ON THE HORSE: To me, any attempt at growth is a necessary step to success, whether you deem it a failure or a triumph. Taking risks is a huge part of being an entrepreneur. That’s why when someone comes to me with an idea, I just say go for it! Any associated risks are generally not as dicey as you think they’ll be. If your concept doesn’t go according to plan, there are always other opportunities out there. You just have to dust yourself off, internalize what you’ve learned, and move forward. Ultimately, if you approach something you’re passionate about with purpose and drive, you won’t regret it.
FIND A PARTNER TO SHARE IN THE FUN: Starting a business is a challenging and daunting task that is easier when shared. I have been lucky enough to have a phenomenal partner by my side from the very beginning, and find that I am even more appreciative of Jenn for being able to share in the fun and exciting times together. When we launched the business in November of 2009, Rent the Runway was featured on the front page of the New York Times Business Section. The best part of that unforgettable day was being able to enjoy it with Jenn. I actually remember us screaming at the top of our lungs, hugging and jumping around so much that we literally fell over with excitement. To this day, we make a point to truly relish in the fun times together and find that we can’t imagine not being able to share those moments with one another.


Check back next month for a new installation of FROM THE DESK OF. In the meantime, tell us what you’re interested in hearing about in the comment section below.