When one puts together hard work and a dream, they can change the world for the better.
Illinois State University alum Kasey Gandham proved just that as he took his passion and hobby and turned them into something to help others. Gandham and fellow ISU graduate Mike Shannon, founded PackBack, an online resource where students can rent textbooks by the hour.
“I wanted to do something, but didn’t know how to use my skills to make a difference in the world while still making a profit,” Gandham said, as he gave a presentation to ISU students about his business start up and “Shark Tank” experience.
Though Gandham has made it big, there are still people who helped him along the way and he is now giving back by speaking to ISU students about how he made his dream a reality.
“I work with the Means Center so we sponsored Kasey to come speak. Our goal is to sponsor entrepreneurs as well as startups,” Doan Winkel, assistant professor of entrepreneurship, said.
PackBack, which Gandham created his junior year, won first place at ISU’s business competition. From there he knew his idea could go further. After meeting with different investors to pitch the idea, Gandham and his partner got the chance of a lifetime.
In the summer of 2013 casting agents for the show “Shark Tank” called. The PackBack creators then applied and went through the “Shark Tank” process. ABC flew them out last September to film.
“All I could think was, this is really real … It’s really happening,” Gandham said. After making it through various rounds in “Shark Tank,” the two finally pitched their ideas to the sharks.
As they filmed, the two walked down a hallway with cameras surrounding them where they stood in front of the sharks for more than an hour pitching their idea.
“Everything you see on ‘Shark Tank’ is really real … What happened live was less tense than what aired,” Gandham said. “There was a chance we wouldn’t have even scored so we are grateful we did.”
The fact that Gandham has been so successful does not stop him from encouraging others.
“If you are passionate [about what you do] go out of your way to form as many connections as possible, asking, ‘what can I do for you?’ It will inevitably make ISU a better place.”