IDDBA speaker shares thoughts on becoming your own disruptor

If you’re truly innovating, Jennifer Fleiss says, you shouldn’t be worried about disruptors in your market. In fact, you should be disrupting yourself.
 
Fleiss, the co-founder of Rent The Runway, an online designer dress and accessory rental service, shared her thoughts on the new frontier of experiential marketing on Monday morning during IDDBA ’18 in New Orleans.
 
“I like to say there really are no new businesses, just behaviors that have been optimized,” Fleiss says, noting that consumers had been “renting” clothes for years before it became a business, either by wearing and returning, borrowing from a friend or buying fast fashion and wearing just once.
 
That means nothing is off limits when it comes to new ideas, even if the new ideas challenges things with which you’ve already found success. Rent The Runway did this when it rolled out a new service, offering more casual garments that could be rented four or five pieces at a time.
 
“We disrupted ourselves once again with Rent The Runway Unlimited,” Fleiss says.
 
How does it all tie into the retail foodservice industry? Consumers, across the board, Fleiss says, want to be smart. They want to share their experiences and be retail trailblazers or sorts for their friends.
 
Fleiss’ latest venture is as the CEO and co-founder of Code Eight, the first portfolio company within Walmart’s startup incubator. Through that she has launched Jetblack, a text message-based shopping service geared towards busy moms.
 
Both Rent The Runway and Jetblack were born, in a sense, out of Fleiss’ necessity – needing a way to access high-end fashion as a low-earning young adult, and now needing help as a busy professional and mother of three.
 
“You have to identify trends, problems and possible solutions while acting as your own consumer,” she says. “Use our own lens to look for the biggest needs.”