Former Illinois State University students Kasey Gandham and Mike Shannon are behind Packback, an e-commerce platform for textbook rentals. The two young men pitched their business on Shark Tank in 2014. They landed a deal with billionaire Mark Cuban who invested $250,000 in exchange for 20 percent equity in the “pay-per-view, 24-hour rental” company. Packback started out renting digital textbooks for as little as $5 a day while competitors at the time, Amazon’s Textbook Rentals, Bookrenter.com, tended to rent e-textbooks for a semester instead of by the day.
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Since Shark Tank, Packback has launched Packback Questions, a social media platform where students can ask their professors questions. It costs $18 a semester for students (who don’t rent books via Packback); it’s free for professors to use. In July 2016, Packback CEO Mike Shannon said the Packback Questions platform provides the bulk of the company’s revenue.