When Jennifer “Jenny” Fleiss decided to leave Walmart, where she’d led the now-shuttered clothing membership service Jetblack, she reflected on her early days at Rent the Runway, the designer clothing rental company she cofounded with Jennifer Hyman in 2009.
Now Fleiss is looking to bring similar experience to the next generation of entrepreneurs. After toying with the idea of launching her own fund, Fleiss made the somewhat surprising decision to join a Boston-based growth equity firm, Volition Capital, as its first female investment partner.
“All these women and operators going into investing, it’s fascinating,” Fleiss tells Forbes. “I really wanted to learn more about the growth stages, later stages of investing because I saw how critical it was at Rent the Runway. I also wanted to bring my operator, founder lens to a place where it would be complementary.”
Fleiss isn’t just Volition’s first female partner, but its first with startup cofounder operational experience, managing partner Larry Chang says. Known for investments including $44 billion (market cap) Chewy’s Series A round in 2013, Volition has looked to expand its consumer brand portfolio in recent years. The firm initially considered candidates from traditional finance roles before expanding its search and targeting Fleiss. “We really got excited about Jenny’s upside,” says Chang. “We thought she had the emerging DNA of an investor but she also brought a lot of capabilities and talent we were lacking as a firm coming from an operating background, coming from being a founder.”