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Curiosity Matters

An Exploration of Branding, Design and Cultural Trends

Women in Tech-Media - NY Internet Week

Just got back from the Women in Tech-Media featuring:
Jennifer Hyman - CEO of Rent the Runway, a site to rent designer clothing that was founded in 2008 and has already been featured in the NY Times, has funding from venture capitalists, and a steady following.
Dorothy McGivney - previously worked at Google for 6 years and recently quit to start her own site Jauntsetter, a travel site and e-newsletter for New Yorkers. I just signed up! Hey roommie - you'll like this one!
Jordan Reid - founder of the lifestyle site RamshackleGlam as recently as March of this year and now a contributor to Cosmo, Time Out NY, TheGloss.com, etc. and a correspondent for BetterTV as well as appearing on other lifestyle programs. I've posted about her before. She has an inspiring story of finding success where her non-linear journey took her from Hollywood to a soulless NYC law firm to blogging for Nonsociety.com and then finally starting her own site.
Tammy Tibbetts - created She's the First, a global campaign that promotes the importance of educating girls in the developing world. Oh, and she graduated from the College of New Jersey (Go Jersey!) and is only 24 years old. Holy cow. All while maintaining a full time job.
And finally, the panel was moderated by Neha Chauhan who moderated the last Women in Social Media panel in February. She currently works as an investment banking analyst at JPMorgan, is a Harvard Grad, developed My Social Impact and has another startup venture coming up soon so stay tuned.

I found the panel especially inspiring because they were all under 30 (I believe) and the general consensus was that doing their own thing was well worth the struggles of starting their own business. And they all seemed genuinely nice! I was particularly impressed with Jennifer Hyman, a Harvard MBA grad who spoke about literally changing people's buying habits through Rent the Runway. In the future, my closet might not be filled with cheap, low quality throwaways or filled at all. Instead, I'll be able to present the "brand" of myself that I want and rent designer goods for various occasions. Someday she hopes that people will rent seasonal items rather than buying them. In theory, this could open up many activities that were far from affordable to most - like skiing. And that's just the beginning. Jennifer believes that the future of eCommerce will be a more curated experiences instead of the current model which is to go to a site that has every selection imaginable. As someone who finds online shopping too time consuming, I agree with her predictions.

The panelists also gave some great general advice about building your business and blogging. Jordan's advice for gaining a larger audience is to comment on sites you like, offer to guest blog on other sites, and she mentioned that the blogging community is very supportive, so get out there and make friends. She also stressed that as a blogger, you're selling both yourself and your opinions so honesty, integrity and showing the absolute best of yourself every day is key. And don't be afraid to ask people for help especially if you're going at your venture alone.

Dorothy recommends Founders at Work, a book about various startups and how they went about launching their business. She also found Meet Up to be a great resource for networking and strongly recommends starting your own Meet Up if you can't find a group that shares your specific interest.

And finally, despite going to Harvard Business School, Jennifer and her partner decided to forgo creating a formal business plan and instead winged the process. They learned and listened to people along the way. She recommends never turning down a meeting with someone because you never know what advice they will offer or what type of connections they will give. Jennifer explained that you build your reputation by the respect you give others when you listen to them and are open to their suggestions. I thought that was some powerful advice.

Dorothy, Jordan, Jennifer, & Tammy