Thursday, October 30, 2014

Session Two: You Don’t Want To Be At The Airport When Your Ship Comes In by Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871

Session Two: You Don’t Want To Be At The Airport When Your Ship Comes In by Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871

Now, this is what made the event. Howard is incredibly smart and has no problem sharing all his knowledge. I have heard him speak before. It was about 4-5 years ago when he was the CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint Academy. He spoke on social media. Back then he blew my mind. This time around he did not disappoint.
Howard focused his talk on a mixture of the technology industry, social media and the startup world. There was so much information, that I literally was taking picture after picture with my phone of the slides to try to capture everything, all while taking notes.
Here are the key takeaways along with a good majority of the slides:
  • The world of business as we know it is shifting – and drastically
  • We must keep up with the evolution or risk being left out in the cold
  • The new era of giving customers what they want, when they want it, where they want it, is here
  • Pricing is complex – no longer is it the norm to create the prices
    • Consumers will pay what they consider the value to be
    • Some might value it at $0.99 and others at $99
    • You need to be able to adjust
  • It’s not about quality anymore, as it is about how fast you can get it to them
  • You need to understand the data; the power lies in the data
    • Credit card companies can predict divorces based on purchase behaviors
    • Amazon is sending items to warehouses near you before you even purchase based on your past purchase behavior
    • Disney’s Magic Band lets Goofy know your kid’s name and where you are from, in a screen in the costume
  • The shift in the market is trending upwards for the Free-Agents in the market
    • Because of that, we are becoming life-long learners out of necessity to survive
    • We are outsourcing more jobs
  • It’s becoming a sharing economy, and Divy is an example
  • That’s what the generations coming up are used to and want; they don’t want to have to pay $200+ for a bike, when they can buy a membership for $75/year

That’s not all of it, but it’s a lot it. Mr. Tullman is an animal when it comes to this information. He will blow your mind in his talks. With him at the helm of 1871, the incubator is in very good hands. Here are some slides from the presentation.
The New Internet Trifecta
Niches Are The Name of The Game
Free Agent Market
Marriage on the Rocks
As a business owner you need to consider some of the points he makes:
  1. Your business must adjust to the what they want, when they want it, where they want it economy mentality
  2. Data rules everything now
  3. It’s not about quality, as much as it is about how fast people can get it
  4. The shift to the free agent market
  5. Keep in mind the generations coming up, that will affect your business
  6. Pricing is becoming even more complex
Understanding these points, you will be able to weather the storm and adjust your business model accordingly so you don’t become an obsolete business.




Is this the cheapest price yet for college textbooks?

Is this the cheapest price yet for college textbooks?

 - Packback CEO Mike Shannon - Credit: Kendall Karmanian
Packback CEO Mike Shannon
Credit: Kendall Karmanian
You don't need to be a math major to know that spending $5 for a college textbook is less than spending $45 and way less than spending $187. In this story problem, the prices are real. A new edition of “Professional Feature Writing” by Bruce Garrison goes for $187 on, while the cheapest used copy is listed at $45. That bargain-basement $5 version? It's a 24-hour e-book rental from Chicago startup Packback Inc.

A limited-time-only e-book isn't the same, of course, as an old-fashioned textbook. But for students who don't crack open their books until just before an exam, it's all they probably need. A growing number of investors and publishers seem to agree.

Packback, conceived when its founders still were undergraduates at Illinois State University and launched in spring 2013, has attracted 80,000 users and $1 million in venture capital from, among others, celebrity entrepreneur Mark Cuban. The site lists 3,200 textbooks from big-name publishers such as McGraw-Hill Education, up from just 21 titles at the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.

Co-founder and CEO Mike Shannon hopes that within 18 months Packback will build “full catalogs” of digital textbooks — which means many students would be able to rent most of their assigned readings via its site.

Textbooks these days “are often more of a reference point,” says Mr. Shannon, 24, a rapper and 2012 finance and economics grad whose previous job was ball boy for the Chicago Bulls. Yet “prices are continuing to rise, so students are looking for alternatives.”


That argument won over Mr. Cuban, who invested $250,000 after Mr. Shannon and co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Kasey Grandham pitched him on ABC reality show “Shark Tank” last spring. Since then, locals including 1871 CEO Howard Tullman and ContextMedia Inc. co-founder Shradha Agarwal also have invested in Packback.

Mr. Shannon still checks in weekly with Mr. Cuban. He might see Ms. Agarwal daily. That's because Packback's eight employees work in a corner of ContextMedia's River North headquarters that is devoted to startups.

Ms. Agarwal says she appreciates the team's practicality. Instead of focusing on technology and ignoring the challenges that face even e-book publishers, she says, Mr. Shannon “is very aware of the reality on the ground and working on what Packback needs to do to get students onto their platform and get publishers on board.”

To that end, Messrs. Shannon and Grandham (a 2013 marketing grad) and co-founder and design chief Jessica Tenuta (a 2013 graphic design grad) have signed up 200 student ambassadors on 80 campuses; they're paid commissions on sales.

They'll need a bigger army to beat rivals CourseSmart from Vital Source Technologies Inc. of Raleigh, North Carolina; Chegg Inc. of Santa Clara, California; and Seattle-based Inc. Also, the startup, which won't disclose revenue, is not profitable.

Packback has a something the others don't, however: Mr. Cuban's endorsement. Since he backed Packback, the company has received 1,800 applications from students looking to represent the company on campus.

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