Dylan Wheeler, ecoText
Tell us about ecoText
The price of college in America is inflating faster than any other market. Student debt has surpassed $1 trillion — with no end in sight. The price of required supplemental education like textbooks has also seen rapid inflation. In today’s digital age, it doesn’t make sense for individuals to bear the full cost of these books. We aim to transform the information industry, like what Spotify did to music, by allowing all students to “stream” their books on our platform.
Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?
As college students ourselves, our team came together and realized that college textbooks are not only too expensive, but the “out-of-pocket” expense is impractical for many students who can barely afford to pay rent and meals. We’ve been able to tap into our pain points as students to understand and validate this market. The University of New Hampshire has amazing incentives for startups and innovative ideas, which has been a perfect playing ground for us to tease out our approach and develop our technology.
What was your biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?
The most significant obstacle in starting this company is the fact that we’re disrupting a massive industry. We cannot be successful if publishers don’t license their books to us, and students cannot be successful if their required books are absent from our platform. We have been able to tackle both sides of the problem by getting crafty and looking for open-source or copyright-expired books to add to our platform first. Building this volume of non-proprietary information is mission-critical for us, for many assigned readings rely on the teachings and insight from older literature.
What’s the best advice you have received?
“Never mistake activity for achievement.” With the world connected like never before, billions of people are fighting for their voices to be heard among the sea of noise. It has become harder than ever to see through this noise and determine what truthfully has value and what goals are worth pursuing. It’s easy to spend a whole afternoon responding to emails, checking social media notifications, and sitting through meetings thinking you’re being productive and furthering your mission when you might be running around very quickly and going nowhere. Learning to be aware of the nuances between activity and achievement is crucial in staying organized, motivated, and effective.
What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?
Growing up in the small, rural town of Bow, NH, I think that New Hampshire’s landscape is my favorite part of living here. No matter the season, our lush environment never fails to leave me in awe, whether I’m merely passing through to work or going for long walks and hikes with friends and family. I think that my appreciation for nature led me to ecoText, for we have incorporated an environmental component into our value proposition and are helping eliminate deforestation by popularizing digital books.
What does the future look like for your company?
The future is bright for ecoText. There are many inefficiencies to solve in the education and information-sharing space, and we are confident that our highly-motivated team will guide ecoText where it will shine the brightest. We are working closely with students, universities, publishers, and information pioneers to identify where we can be the most help. We are also fully utilizing NH’s wealth of resources (including Accelerate NH!) to build and scale our enterprise. We want to help create a future where information is free, and we hope NH will become the trailblazer into this space.