Cleveland Business Connects

For immediate release (October 6, 2017) Media Contact: Judy Abelman Email: Phone: 440.725.8861...

Rent the Runway co-founders, pitch competition highlight Female Entrepreneur Summit


CLEVELAND — Rent the Runway co-founders Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss will headline the fourth-annual Female Entrepreneur Summit (FES) Oct. 21 at Cleveland Public Auditorium and Conference Center.

The event, presented by Contempo Communications and Cleveland Business Connects (CBC) magazine, will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Author, journalist, and entrepreneur Andrea Vecchio will emcee.

Hyman and Fleiss, after meeting at Harvard Business School, founded Rent the Runway in 2009 to give women a chance to wear designer garb without the hefty price tag. The company, which received $54 million in venture capital in March of 2013, has grown to accommodate more than 4 million customers, 250 employees, and 200 designer partners.

“The Rent the Runway concept is brilliant! I was so intrigued by the idea that I recently logged-in to try it out first-hand. I created my own customized profile and rented a dress for an event. While I didn’t end up wearing it, the entire customer service experience was really terrific,” says Renee DeLuca Dolan, president of Contempo Communications. “It’s truly a Cinderella story! We’re thrilled to have the ladies share their secrets to success at our lunchtime keynote address.”

Hyman and Fleiss’ keynote presentation will be presented in partnership with the 10th annual Small Business Convention, hosted Oct. 21 at the same venue by the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE).

In addition to the keynote luncheon, this year’s FES will feature a “Female Entrepreneur Pitch Competition.” Sixty attendees, selected from a pool of online and video applicants, will attend a morning pitch-coaching session conducted by six entrepreneur expert pitch coaches from Kent State University. The coaches will choose 10 finalists, who in the afternoon will pitch to all summit attendees and a distinguished panel of judges. The attendees along with the judges will determine the top four finalists, who will win cash prizes amounting to: first place ($10,000), second place ($5,000), third and fourth places ($2,500 each).

The Kent State pitch coaches are:

● Mary Heidler, retail entrepreneur and faculty member, Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Kent State University

● Kipp Krukowski, adjunct faculty member, Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Kent State University

● Denise Easterling, entrepreneur and faculty member, Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Kent State University

● Mike Beder, Kent State University alumnus and serial entrepreneur

● Brian Bowles, CEO, Blackwolf Tactical, Center for Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation student start-up mentor, Kent State University

● Craig Zamary, serial entrepreneur and faculty member, Department of Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Kent State University

The panel of judges will include Hyman, Fleiss, and DeLuca Dolan as well as Jumpstart COO Cathy Belk and two Kent State University officials — Deborah Spake, the dean of the College of Business Administration, and Robert Hisrich, the associate dean for Graduate and International Programs.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Kent State University’s College of Business Administration again this year,” DeLuca Dolan says. “Last year we gave away a scholarship, and this year we’ll be giving away upward of $20,000 to the top four winners in the “American Idol”-style pitch competition. This is our way of giving back to the community and supporting women in business, start-ups specifically.”

Attendees will also have the opportunity to participate in intensive workshops and panel discussions with experts from various disciplines associated with launching, growing and sustaining a successful entrepreneurial venture. By the end of the day, participants will have new tools and tangible “takeaways” to use in their own businesses. A few of the speakers and panelists include:

● Katie Van Dyke, director, Small Business Development Center, Cleveland State University

● Stacy Feiner, executive coach, author of “Talent Mindset: The Business Owner’s Guide to Building Bench Strength”

● Kristin Tull, president, Pradco

● Lauren Rudman, manager of human resources, Erico; president, Cleveland Society for Human Resources

● Nancy Brown, co-owner, Ladies & Gentlemen Salon and Spa

● Laura Bennett, CEO and co-founder, Embrace Pet Insurance

● Michelle Rowley, MBA, owner, The Creative Edge Consultancy; business and marketing strategist

● Rachel Talton, CEO, Synergy Marketing Strategy and Research Inc.

● Nichelle McCall, speaker, tech entrepreneur, and motivator

Sponsors include Contempo Communications, Cleveland Business Connects magazine, Cleveland State University Monte Ahuja College of Business, Kent State University College of Business Administration, KeyBank, McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, and University Hospitals.

To register for the event, visit or call (216) 831-9557. Tickets are $100 for paid CBC subscribers, $125 for general admission, and $225 for those interested in the personalized pitch coaching sessions and competition.

Founded in 1996, Contempo Communication is a full-service creative firm known for its uniqueness and ingenuity. The firm enjoys a reputation as one of Northeast Ohio’s top design and creative agencies, offering a full cadre of services ranging from branding, graphic design, website, digital and social media development, event and marketing solutions. Contempo Communications also publishes an award winning magazine, Cleveland Business Connects, a leading regional networking publication targeting business leaders, the event management industry and female entrepreneurs. Together, this unique union of creative services and the notable publication distinguishes the firm as a truly innovative and relevant resource for Northeast Ohio businesses of all sizes.


Michelle Rowley,
Event & Marketing Chair,
Female Entrepreneur Summit



  • Jun 4, 2015
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