About Packback

Packback’s mission is to empower every student to be fearlessly curious and find their unique voice.

These few words shape everything we do at Packback from the smallest decision to the largest. Over the last decade since our company’s founding, our team has seen first-hand the power of giving students intentionally designed spaces in their learning experience to be autonomous and curious. We have also seen the incredible benefits of using AI technology to shorten feedback loops and help students revise their work before they submit.

Packback is a pedagogy partner that uses technology as a “means to an end” to shorten feedback loops for students and instructors, improve writing and critical thinking skills, and cultivate student-centered, trust-based educational learning environments.

Who we are

Packback team members are passionate, mission-driven lifelong learners. Many of us spent time as educators in classrooms and have experienced first hand just how draining the day to day of educating can be. We have seen the gap between the most and least prepared students grow wider every year. The pressure to close that gap has once rested directly on our shoulders, and we understand the enormous cost of addressing that gap, and also not addressing that gap.

Some of us were intrinsically motivated students, the “teacher’s pets” who never want to stop learning. Some of us were the distracted or unmotivated students who wished their instructors would have adopted the pedagogy behind Packback. But all of us share a passionate commitment to our purpose.

Our Values

The Packback values define our culture, and shape how we show up for our educator partners and the students we serve.

1. We are fearlessly curious

We constantly seek to deepen our understanding of our disciplines and of the world and to relish opportunities to discover and experience something new. Our curiosity is focused on how we can build a company that best supports curiosity and lifelong learning in students, and as we explore that question, we ask how our own expertise in engineering, sales, recruiting, etc. can be applied to further that purpose.

2. We are radically kind

We optimize toward truly supporting the best outcomes for our customers through kindness instead of niceness. We are radically kind to our teammates. That means we are thoughtful about how we communicate and do not hold back on sharing feedback that could help. And we are kind to ourselves as we grow, focusing on growth and progress instead of perfection.

3. We do what we say we will do.

Stories that look like overnight successes are actually the sum of thousands of tiny decisions to follow through on commitments to ourselves and our team. When we commit to a personal goal, we hold ourselves to that goal rigorously, even if we think no one else is looking.  We take pride in consistently delivering on the personal goals we set because our individual choices are what add up to team-level success or failure.

4. We never stop moving forward (no matter how small the step).

Building an organization is like running a marathon; many people dream of the finish line but don’t put in the hundreds of thousands of steps to reach it. We take pride in every small step. Our growth rate is far more important than where we are right now. Today should simultaneously be the best we have ever been, and the worst we will ever be. 

5. We earn our leadership through ownership and optimism.

No one has ever been (or will ever be) simply “given” a leadership role at Packback. Leadership and respect are earned by taking responsibility. Leadership is something that we continuously earn through our choices, not something any of us permanently have. Every small task, action or decision is an opportunity to be an owner.

6. We employ an investor’s mindset.

As an education company, we see it as our duty to students and instructors to invest our time and resources in a way that will create the greatest impact. We have to act as investors with every dollar we earn from selling our product because it needs to bring far more than a dollar of value back into the lives of students. Because time and resources are limited, we focus on what differentiates us and creates the most impact on students.

Do our values match your own? We’d love to have you join our team.

Awards and Press about Packback

Highlighted Press Features

Packback appeared in the September 2018 cover story of the Chronicle of Higher Education, “How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing Teaching.”

Packback, along with several professors, were featured in the November 2018 Forbes article, “Packback Is Building A.I. To Enhance University Learning.”

Awards and Appearances

Packback appeared on Shark Tank. The image depicts the ABC Shark Tank Logo.

Appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank and received investment from Mark Cuban

Chicago Innovation Awards Logo

Chicago Innovation Award Winners, “Up-and-Comer” category

Two of our founders, Mike Shannon and Kasey Gandham, were named 2 of Crain's Chicago Business' "20 in their 20's".

Founders were named Crain’s Chicago Business, “20 in their 20’s” in 2016

Packback's cofounder Jessica Tenuta, was named one of Chicago Inno's "50 on Fire". The image depicts the 50 on Fire logo.

Founder was named one of Chicago Inno’s “50 on Fire” recipients in Chicago