March 19, 2019
For Le Tote’s Rakesh Tondon, the biggest obstacle in building a clothing rental company hasn’t been the competition, or even a crowded market — it’s been changing the perception that apparel can be rented. Tondon says he welcomes competition if it helps shift behavior.
From Le Tote's founding in 2012 to the company's entrance into Y Combinator in 2013, Le Tote has come far. Today, it delivers across 48 states and China. Rakesh shares his thoughts about what he’s built and where he’s going.
The idea for a clothing rental company is somewhat unconventional. How did you come up with it?
My wife was going through a second pregnancy and was working at Google. She was swapping and sharing every day with her friends to get variety in what she was wearing. I also found out that my friend Bret, who worked with me at J.P. Morgan, was seeing the same thing with his girlfriend. She was in a formal swap group. They would get together once every two or three weeks, drink wine, and swap clothes. They’d then track it all on Google Docs. These were different women in different places, different demographics who were trying to get variety by sharing and swapping.