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

FES pitch-winner Komae wins similar NYC competition

NEW YORK — Akron-based Komae, co-founded by Audrey Wallace and Amy Husted, on Monday was named one of three winning companies in the Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS Project Entrepreneur venture competition.

Komae, which produces an app that allows parents to exchange free babysitting with friends, was already the winner of the first-ever pitch competition at the fourth-annual Female Entrepreneur Summit on Oct. 21. The summit’s sponsor, CBC’s parent company, Contempo Communications, awarded Wallace and Husted $10,000.

In New York the duo was among 12 finalists who each gave a five-minute pitch on their businesses to a panel of experts  at the Project Entrepreneur Weekend Intensive on Sunday. As one of three winners, Wallace and Husted earned onsite training, education, and mentorship as part of Project Entrepreneur’s five-week business accelerator program at Rent the Runway’s New York offices. They also received $10,000 in cash prizes and premium BizSpark Plus, compliments of Microsoft Office.

Fellow winners were:

  • Cake: Suelin Chen, founder (Boston): The easiest way to think about end of life
  • Full Harvest Technologies: Christine Moseley, founder (San Francisco): A B2B platform that helps growers bring their excess produce to market

The three companies were among nearly 200 female founders who participated in a weekend-long intensive program and were selected from 12 finalists who pitched their businesses to a panel of experts.

“I know I speak for all the panelists when I say this was an extremely difficult decision given the huge display of innovation in the room,” Jennifer Hyman, CEO and co-founder of Rent the Runway, said. “All of the companies that pitched possess the solid foundations and drive necessary to disrupt their respective industries, proving further that women can change the world.”

Hyman and fellow Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Fleiss were the keynote speakers at the Oct. 21 Female Entrepreneur Summit.

“We can’t wait for the winning teams to work alongside us in our office, putting into action everything they learned this weekend to scale their businesses and bring their visions to life,” Fleiss added.

The Project Entrepreneur Accelerator Program, hosted within Rent the Runway’s office in New York City, will allow the winning teams to learn from RTR employees who are in the trenches of a start-up and problem solving on a day-to-day basis. Each team will receive focused mentorship, direct coaching, introductions to investors, and access to the deep network that is the New York City startup community, among other benefits.

The winning companies were chosen by a panel of experts that, along with Hyman and Fleiss, included:

  • Janine Shelffo, co-head of TMT, UBS Investment Bank
  • Susan Lyne, president and founder, BBG Ventures
  • Carley Roney, co-founder, The Knot (XO Group)
  • Rebecca Minkoff, co-founder and creative director, Rebecca Minkoff
  • Katherine L. Oliver, principal, Bloomberg Associates
  • Anu Duggal, founding partner, F Cubed (Female Founders Fund)

Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS joined forces in September of 2015 to launch Project Entrepreneur, a program the two organizations designed to address the fact that, while women are starting more businesses than ever before, only 4 percent generate $500,000 or more in annual revenue. Women also count for less than 10 percent of founders at high-growth firms. In addition to the venture competition, accelerator program, and weekend intensive, the Project Entrepreneur initiative also includes multi-city events and a digital resource hub that includes content developed by leading business school faculty and industry professionals. Additional support for Project Entrepreneur is provided by Microsoft Office (including the winners’ premium BizSpark Plus, with $120,000 of Azure cloud credits). Mashable is its official media partner.

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