I'm one of the cofounders of Packback, where I head up design, brand and user experience. Previously, I designed brands for portfolio companies at Lightbank and Listen Ventures. I founded my first company Inkblot Designs in high school, creating and selling hand-illustrated custom shoes.
I started my first company, Inkblot Designs, in high school selling custom hand-illustrated sneakers. I was studying fine art at the time, and loved the idea of making wearable art that was accessible and custom to the individual. I didn't really intend at the time to "start a company"; I was just creating something that I loved and other people responded to that passion. Now, after founding two startups and working on nearly a dozen other startup brands, I've come to believe that companies born out of passion and authenticity resonate the strongest with their audiences.
In college, I cofounded Packback with three other cofounders, where I now run brand, design and user experience. We founded Packback as juniors in college after spending hundreds of dollars in our freshman and sophomore years on textbooks, and used many of those books only once or twice. We wanted to create a better textbook option for students that put the control in their hands and saved them money, so we pitched the concept for One-Day eTextbook Rentals in Illinois State University's Business Plan Competition and took First Place. We've since graduated and we launched Packback publicly in Spring of 2014. We are now are helping over 100,000 students save money on textbooks, with 3,000 textbooks in our One-Day Rental Library, and even appeared on Shark Tank in March.
Over the past year, I've been lucky enough to be a part of the movement towards design in venture capital. I was one of two designers in the country chosen to participate in the inaugural class of the Lightbank Design Fellowship, during which I worked with Fooda, Snapsheet, Bevel, Highground and Brad Keywell. I then spent the remainder of the year working with Listen Ventures, a brand consultancy and angel investment fund that provides world-class branding services to early stage startups in exchange for equity only. In both, I witnessed first-hand how empathetic design can accelerate the growth of a start-up and help create a lasting connection between the brand and its users.