Rent The Runway’s Jennifer Hyman Says You Should Have A Network Of Mentors When Starting A Business

Jennifer Hyman, co-founder and CEO of Rent the Runway, recently sat down with The Huffington Post to discuss her career path and some of the challenges she has faced, especially as a woman in the male-heavy technology industry.

Hyman along with co-founderJennifer Fleiss have been having a tremendous year so far with a $15 million investment from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins in June and they also teamed up with Lancome to expand their product offering.

As classmates at Harvard Business School, Hyman and Fleiss did not set out to pursue a career in technology or fashion. They just came up with a very solid web-based idea that happened to involve some very heavy technological aspects and they had to learn about it as they went along.  Hyman’s best advice for starting a web company when you don’t have the background in technology is to “develop a network of mentors. Ask a huge number of questions, start building a team at any level and have them teach you — sit with them. Jenny [Fleiss] and I have taken to sitting with our engineers to understand how they spend their day and how they’re motivated.”

She said the technology aspect, for sure, has presented the toughest learning challenge in the launching process. As for why there aren’t as many women in technology Hyman said:

“Technology is an intimidating industry — and it’s especially intimidating to come into as a woman because it is so heavily oriented toward men. There’s that initial hurdle of being the only woman in the room to get over, which is something that will resonate whether you go into venture capital, or whether you go into technology, or whether you go and play football.

The second factor is that technology is presented to the general population [as] the two guys in a garage, sitting in front of a computer all day long with their glasses on, coding. That’s one element of technology, but it certainly doesn’t encompass the gamut of all of the roles within a technology organization.

I think we need to be cognizant of broadening the brand of what technology actually means, and highlighting for women that there are many different areas where you can shine in a technology organization.”

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