Kasey Grandham, Mike Shannon and Nick Currier cofounded PackBack Books to help students avoid the high cost of college textbooks. Students spend about $1,000 a year on textbooks, some of which get used only a few times or for only a few pages. PackBack rents e-textbooks for $5 a day, any time of the day or night, a massive saving over buying textbooks. If a student wants to buy the e-textbook, the rental fees are credited toward the purchase. It’s a huge saving compared to competitors (Amazon, for one) who were renting e-textbooks by the semester. They had a leasing deal with a major publisher and expected to bring on more publishers because this model gave them a new revenue stream that they were losing through used-book sales.
From the beginning, the founders intended to build a second layer into the program, a community of students engaging with each other. That idea led them to where they are today, using Artificial Intelligence to quantify student success metrics, such as critical thinking and curiosity. Today, instructors use PackBack as a core part of their grading and of their curriculum, with improved student engagement.