It’s crunch time for seven female-led New York City small businesses.
The entrepreneurs are finalists in this year’s Project Entrepreneur competition, launched in September from a partnership between a foundation established by the NYC-based apparel company Rent the Runway and the Swiss finance firm UBS.
On Saturday, more than 200 owners of 150 women-led businesses from 26 U.S. states — chosen from the competition — will gather at the Conrad Hotel in Battery Park City for an NYC Weekend Intensive, which will feature networking events and seminars led by notable female entrepreneurs like Bethenny Frankel, the TV personality and founder of Skinnygirl Cocktails, and fashion-industry giant Rebecca Minkoff.
The next day, the competition’s 12 finalist companies, seven of which are based in NYC and two of which will be announced during the Weekend Intensive, will pitch their concepts to a panel of experts.
The panel will select three winners to receive $10,000 and an invitation to a five-week business incubator program at the Rent the Runway offices.
According to Jenny Fleiss, Rent the Runway’s co-founder, the company teamed with UBS to give resources to female entrepreneurs to diversify the face of small business in America, which has traditionally been associated with men.
“I think there’s so many opportunities to unlock amazing ideas from demographics that aren’t represented in the current makeup of entrepreneurs,” she told amNewYork. “We need more women out there starting ideas, getting funding and going after their dreams and their visions.”
The companies attending the event are in stages from beta to launched but still small, as they needed to have received less than $100,000 in institutional investment to qualify.
We chatted with founders from the seven local companies about their businesses, all of which are in the beta stage, and what they expect from their big weekend.