After two years of beating all odds—launching our startup out of our college apartments, pitching and being advised by publishing executives while attempting to license their content, and ultimately building a team of top-notch talent while raising funds from some of Chicago’s best, we’re happy to announce Packback will be airing on ABC’s hit TV show Shark Tank on Friday, March 21st.
So what’s the short story? The textbook industry is broken for both students and publishers, while lofty startups and industry initiatives have been falling short.
We believe there are fundamental issues plaguing the textbook industry, allowing the used book market to profit at the expense of students, professors and publishers. Students are forced into making uninformed purchasing decisions based on a lack of transparency into the textbook market in addition to an uncertainty of usage from their expensive textbook, while publishers have been historically left with no other choice than to raise prices over time to offset their lost revenue due to used books.
We started Packback as students realizing there needed to be a student-focused solution that works for both publishers and professors as well. Too many corporate education companies and education startups have been trying to innovate on educational ideals, but not in ways that were beneficial to real student behavior to generate meaningful progress. Years later of big talk and millions of dollars of investment into the industry, the student/publisher problem is still the same. We’re changing that, creating immediate solutions that work for students today, but lay a strong foundation for a digital tomorrow. Debuting Packback to students on the national stage through Shark Tank could not be more exciting for us.
Preparing for showtime.
The urgency of preparing for the episode has drawn our team closer than ever as we’ve taken our 2 month product roadmap and have condensed it into the next three weeks. We’ve launched our new site with new features as we’re hoping to empower students to make more informed decisions when buying or selling books. Our free sell tool allows students to compare textbook buy-back prices from popular online retailers to find the best offer and maximize their cashback. Students use our real-time price comparison engine while buying books to ensure they find the lowest prices across the web, and of course our digital inventory of $3 to $5 digital textbook rentals has been growing every month as we continuously sign on publishers.
The recent 16 hour-straight days at the office have been taxing but it’s been awesome to see what we’ve been able to accomplish. Our amazing cast of investors have been extremely supportive of our appearance and we’ve recently had the pleasure to have spent a lot of great time with our board of directors Mark Achler and Howard Tullman.
Where we’re going from here.
Seeing our company progress from our college apartments to Chicago’s startup hub 1871, growing from two full time to five and moving into our own office in Catapult, growing a brand ambassador program spanning 60+ students across the country, and now debuting Packback on national television to over 7 million viewers nation-wide, we couldn’t be more proud of what our team and supporting cast or investors, advisors, publishers, and ambassadors have been able to accomplish over the last few months.
At the time we pitched in front of the sharks we were a product in beta with just a few hundred bucks in revenue. We had been pitching Chicago angels/VC’s for some time already, felt confident going into our pitch on set, but at the same time always wondered how they’d react to such a young company with only a few days of recent sales. Nonetheless, the episode will definitely be one that…well…you’ll just have to see for yourself!
Packback will be hosting a viewing party at Chicago’s startup hub 1871 on March 21st open to the community where we’ll have a founder’s fireside chat after the episode. To all our students, your support in spreading the word about the airing would mean the world to us - every new tweet/share and person that learns about our efforts will spark our student movement of more affordable books. We’re looking forward bringing Packback to the national stage where we’ll be saving money for tens of thousands of students nationwide with our new suite of free tools when buying, renting, or selling books back.
The Packback Team