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Project Entrepreneur Venture Competition

Grants to USA Women-Led Startups to
Launch a High-Growth Technology Project

Agency Type:

Foundation / Corporation

Funding Source:

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Rent the Runway Foundation

Deadline Date:

11/27/17 11:59 PM ET


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Grants of $10,000 and professional development opportunity to USA or Territories women-led startup businesses that are at the prototype or beta stage to launch a new venture and build a high-growth company. The venture must be original and employ or leverage technology as part of the business model.

PROJECT ENTREPRENEUR is an initiative of Rent the Runway Foundation, challenging women who intend to build a high-growth company using an existing prototype or beta technology.

Program participants will be determined in three stages. Applicants will submit business details and describe them in Applications entered on the Program Website The Applications will be evaluated by a panel of judges, who will select up to two hundred members of the Project Entrepreneur class of 2018, who will be awarded the opportunity to attend Sponsor’s Project Entrepreneur Intensive (“PE Intensive”). Up to twelve Finalists attending the PE Intensive will have the opportunity to present their business plan in-person before a separate panel of judges, who will evaluate the Finalists and select up to five Grantees to receive a $10,000 grant to be used for furthering the Grantees’ goal of building a high-growth company using an existing prototype or beta technology, and acceptance into a five-week accelerator program in New York.

Up to 200 top applicants will be invited to attend the two-day PE Intensive in New York City April 13-14, 2018. At the Intensive, twelve companies will pitch at the PE Intensive. Ten Finalists are pre-selected and two are wild card entrants. Wild cards will be selected during the PE Intensive.

The PE Accelerator is a hands on, 5-week program hosted at Rent the Runway HQ in NYC. The curriculum is designed to help founders take their business to the next level. Accelerator participants will be matched with mentors and participate in a range of programming including goal setting, weekly check-ins with the PE team, Investor Office Hours, workshops with subject matter experts, excursions to other companies, one-on-one meetings with RTR co-founders Jenn Hyman & Jenny Fleiss, and access to and support from RTR Executives and Team.

Evaluation Criteria:

a) Strength of Applicant or Team
How long has the team worked together? What is their collective level of experience? Is there a diversity of expertise and experience? If it is a solo venture, has the applicant identified needed resources in a cohesive manner?

b) Product or Business Idea
Has the applicant described the specific value (need) this business or product will provide to its customers? Does the company leverage technology as a competitive advantage? Has the founder(s) clearly considered her competitors? Can she articulate her differentiators? Has the applicant clearly outlined the pricing and revenue models?

c) Customer Acquisition and Growth Strategy
Has the founder(s) articulated her target audience and market opportunity realistically? Has she described her customer acquisition strategy and timing? Does she understand how her business could scale over time or with additional resources?

d) Professionalism and Branding
Has care been taken in the preparation of the application materials? Has the applicant demonstrated that she has done the best with what she has? Has she demonstrated creativity and an ability to express authenticity when discussing her product or business?

e) Vision
Has the founder(s) thought beyond this accelerator? Is she passionate about this business in particular, or is it just “the next thing” she is doing? Are there components of this plan/product that are extraordinary?

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 165903

Number of Grants:

Up to five

Estimated Size of Grant:

$10,000 and participation in the 5-week accelerator program.

Term of Contract:

The competition takes place in Spring and the Accelerator Program takes place in Summer of 2018.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants must:

- Be ambitious, creative, visionary, eager and motivated.
- Be over 18 years old.
- Be a U.S. resident and have a U.S. bank account.
- Be available to attend the PE Intensive in New York City April 13-14, if selected as a member of the Project Entrepreneur Class of 2018.

The startup must:
- Have at least one woman founder;
- Be at least 50% female-owned;
- Use technology as a competitive advantage;
- Have a viable prototype or beta in place;
- Be original (or an improvement upon an existing idea without infringements).

Not eligible:
- Applicants that have secured over $100,000 in institutional funding from an accredited investor(s) before competition submissions close.
- Nonprofit organizations

Pre-Application Information:

Only one venture/business per applicant will be accepted. Only applications that include a pitch deck will be considered complete.


- September 12, 2017 – November 27, 2017, at 11:59 PM EST: Application Period
- February 2018: Successful applicants will be invited to join the PE Class of 2018 and attend the PE Intensive in New York City.
- March 2018: The top 10 applicants will be notified of their “finalist” status and invited to attend a pitch competition training on April 12 in New York City. Please note: during the course of the PE Intensive, two additional finalists will be selected to participate in the pitch competition as “wild card” entrants.
- April 2018: The PE Intensive will be held on April 13-14 and will culminate in a live pitch competition.
- Summer 2018: The five-week accelerator program will take place in New York City during June-July 2018 with final dates to be announced.

View the updated timeline:

Official rules:

Selection Process:


Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Apply online here:

For questions, contact

URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming