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Emma Hinchliffe, Joseph Abrams

Two Rent the Runway alums sell their software startup

two women sitting on concrete steps, posing for a photograph (Credit: Courtesy of Sawyer)

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Sarah Bond is promoted at Microsoft's Xbox, Sheryl Sandberg launches Sandberg Bernthal Venture Partners with her husband, and two cofounders who met at Rent the Runway sell their startup. Have a productive Monday!

- Runway to success. Almost a decade ago, Marissa Evans Alden and Stephanie Choi were working together at Rent the Runway in New York. Evans Alden was the fashion business's head of radical innovation while Choi was senior director of merchandise planning; Rent the Runway CEO Jenn Hyman paired them together to lead a team.

Choi had a 2-year-old at the time, and she told Evans Alden how tough it was to find the right music enrichment class for her daughter in Brooklyn. "We're spending our time getting you a dress in under an hour," Evans Alden remembers thinking. "Why is something important as your daughter's education hard?"

The pair left Rent the Runway and founded Sawyer in 2015, thinking they would create "ClassPass for kids," a platform that would allow parents to more easily book kids' classes. But they found that the underlying infrastructure of the industry wasn't yet set up to accommodate that vision. "The fitness world had MindBody, but our world had nothing," Evans Alden said. Mom-and-pop businesses ran their classes on pen and paper or on Google spreadsheets with seasonal signup schedules that varied wildly. They sold classes by the semester, as drop-ins, in packs, and as memberships.

So the cofounders pivoted to build a software platform that would power kids' enrichment programming registration, payments, and parent communication, for organizations ranging from theater camps to music classes. They then built a marketplace for parents to browse classes on top of that infrastructure.

Today, Fortune is the first to report, they have sold Sawyer for an undisclosed sum to DaySmart, an Ann Arbor, Mich.,-based business management software provider. DaySmart is a private company with about 300 employees; Sawyer has a fully remote team of 40 and has raised about $23 million in venture capital funding since its founding from investors including Female Founders Fund and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Marissa Evans Alden and Stephanie Choi, cofounders of Sawyer.

DaySmart CEO Patrick Shanahan said in a statement that the acquisition allows his business to "serve a new audience." For the Sawyer team, selling their company after eight years feels like a "great accomplishment," Evans Alden says.

Choi's 2-year-old daughter who inspired the idea for the startup is now 10, and the cofounders have four other kids between them. The kids participate in activities ranging from parkour camp to soccer and theater. "That's what's so fun about this industry," Choi says. "There are so many fun, awesome activities kids get to do."

Emma Hinchliffe

The Broadsheet is Fortune's newsletter for and about the world's most powerful women. Today's edition was curated by Joseph Abrams. Subscribe here.

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