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ISU Shark Tank contestants impress investors

Every college student has been there: you buy the expensive books listed on the course schedule and half way through the semester, you realize that you’re getting an A and you’ve opened the book maybe twice. So spending all that money was basically a waste.

In 2011, ISU students Kasey Gandham, Mike Shannon and Nick Currier, decided that it was time to solve this age-old problem. They brainstormed and perfected ideas for two years, and in 2013 Packbackbooks.com finally became available to students everywhere. Packback allows students to rent text books by the day, instead of the whole semester, for $5 or less.

Kim Boehm, senior marketing major and Packback Campus Marketing Manager, says that the company has come across some struggles, but eventually found the big break they have been looking for.

“Being a startup company with little resources makes it hard to convince students to completely change the way that they buy and sell textbooks,” Boehm said.

“Spreading the word has been a little tough, but now we have a team of Packback Brand Ambassadors at colleges across the country to help spread the word. That, along with our recent airing on ABC’s ‘Shark Tank,’ have been huge successes for Packback.”

Last summer, Packback applied to be featured on an episode of “Shark Tank,” a critically-acclaimed reality show where entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors looking to become a part of the next big thing.

Out of over 45,000 applicants, Packback was chosen and the founders were flown out to Hollywood to begin filming. The episode aired last Friday, bringing with it a wave of publicity and new customers. Unlike some unlucky contestants, Packback was chosen by an investor.

Photo courtesy of Alex Brewer Founders Kasey Gandham,  Mike Shannon and Nick Currier invented Packback, a new and improved way for students to rent textbooks by the day  for $5 or less. The trio appeared on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank” where they successfully convinced judges on the show to invest in their useful product.

Photo courtesy of Alex Brewer
Founders Kasey Gandham, Mike Shannon and Nick Currier invented Packback, a new and improved way for students to rent textbooks by the day for $5 or less. The trio appeared on ABC’s hit show “Shark Tank” where they successfully convinced judges on the show to invest in their useful product.

Mark Cuban, author and businessman, offered $250,000 to Packback in exchange for a 20 percent share in the company, which the founders gladly accepted. Cuban owns the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theatres and Magnolia Pictures, and is the chairman of the HDTV cable network AXS TV.

Alex Brewer, a sophomore international business and managerial economics major and Packback Brand Ambassitor, says that being featured on “Shark Tank” has had an outstanding impact on the business and that Packback’s future is looking bright as ever.

“Our airtime on Shark Tank was estimated to be valued at millions of dollars,” said Brewer. “After the episode ended Packback’s website hits increased significantly. Thankfully, we have an amazing tech team in Chicago and they were able to make sure the servers handled it smoothly.”

In case you missed out on the episode and would like to watch, full “Shark Tank” episodes can be found at www.abc.go.com.

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