A Male VC Once Called Rent the Runway’s Pitch ‘Adorable’

January 9, 2017, 4:05 PM UTC

Rent the Runway might have raised a $60-million funding round last month, but cash didn’t always flow to the female-founded company.

Speaking to Recode‘s Kara Swisher on the “Recode Decode” podcast, the clothing rental startup’s CEO Jennifer Hyman recalled the difficulty of her early days of fundraising, during which one investor called her and co-founder Jennifer Fleiss’s pitch “adorable.”

“He took my hand in his after the pitch and said, ‘You know, this is just adorable. You must be so excited, you’re going to have all these amazing dresses to wear all the time, it’s going to be so fun for you!'”

The episode occurred while the co-founders were raising capital for their series A round, said Hyman, at which point the startup already had 200,000 users on the Rent the Runway platform and what Hyman describes as”unbelievable metrics.”

“I was in a state of shock. I didn’t understand if it was a joke,” she said.

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Hyman noted that the anecdote illustrates a larger trend: Female founders need much more hard data to get venture capital funding than male founders, who can get by with “a PowerPoint and a dream.”

Meanwhile, she said, “I have to come in with 15 spreadsheets.”

Research from Female Founders Fund provides some insight into just how rare it is for women-led startups to land VC funding. For instance, of the more than 200 Bay Area startups that received series A funding in 2015, just 8% were led by women.

Last month, Hyman told Recode that, after raising its most recent round (a series E), the company’s associated valuation is seen as a “significant step up” from the $520 million one that it earned when it raised $60 million in 2014.

The startup is now profitable on an EBITDA basis and had revenues of over $100 million last year, Recode reported last month.

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