Innovators Taking Back The Internet For The Consumer: Dr. Gary Michelson

The Michelson Twenty Million Minds Foundation, founded by Dr. Gary Michelson, has lauded the latest wave of online technologies for their capacity to allow innovators to level the technological playing field by providing individual consumers with technological advances otherwise deemed impossible.

It is with this in mind that Dr. Gary Michelson’s 20 Million Minds Foundation recently partnered with Packback – a startup that allows students to rent digital textbooks, as opposed to purchasing the costly volumes.

Dean Florez, ‎president and CEO at The 20 Million Minds Foundation, is excited by the possibilities of this and similar ventures.

“We recently partnered with Packback Books because the Michelson Twenty Million Minds Foundation supports and promotes innovative startup groups – especially those created by students – that endeavor to lower the cost of textbooks and higher education,” he said.

He added that, “This provides not only the opportunity for students to connect and mobilize in a grassroots manner, but it encourages them to become entrepreneurs and look for technology based solutions to the multitude of problems facing our society.”

For many years, technology suppliers have been primarily absorbed with providing cutting edge hardware and software designed to optimize efficiency and productivity for large corporations. Today however, countless innovative young companies are shifting towards leveling the playing field by providing these tools to consumers, often at little or no cost.

Packback is one of the latest innovative start-ups that is working to provide equal opportunity to its users. Their aim is to bridge the growing chasm between online textbooks and the publishing industry. Packback’s platform allows students to rent digital textbooks for $5 or less per day.

“We provide the bridge to this next-wave digital learning future,” said founder Mike Shannon in a recent interview. “To get that demand to come organically from the students, we’re lowering the barrier with the pricing point first.”

David Blumberg, founder and managing partner of Blumberg Capital, believes that the level of opportunity in what he describes as the emergent “People’s Web” is geared towards companies that are in four distinct categories: transparency enforcers, industry watchdogs, cartel busters and enterprise liberators.

Blumberg believes these innovative companies are symbolic of a wide scale change in the balance of power in which advancements in enterprise contend and cooperate with advancements for the individual.

These advancements propel cutting-edge start-ups and innovators to the forefront of the digital marketplace. As technology makes the world smaller every day, it is easier for small businesses and start-ups to tap directly into global markets, in which trust, reliability and delivery of information and products to consumers can be improved substantially. Advancements in the Internet and technology have allowed these small businesses to reach far beyond what would have been their local consumer base.

This has intensified the exponential growth of the Internet, from a means to interconnect laboratories engaged in government research in 1994, to a global marketplace that Internet World Stats reports, reaches an estimated 2,937 billion possible consumers today, which represents almost 41 percent of the global population.

Global government initiatives have helped this greatly. Singapore’s Intelligent Nation 2015 program has propelled the tiny nation to the forefront of innovators in the tech arena. The ten year plan, which among its goals set a target for a three-fold increase in infocomm export revenue to S$60 billion has already, after eight years, exceeded its goal by almost quadrupling infocomm export revenues to S$78 billion.

Other countries have implemented similar initiatives. Startup Chile is a government funded program that has been attracting foreign startup entrepreneurs with $40,000 grants, a one-year residency visa and a network of skilled employees eager to help entrepreneurs launch their companies. A recent report by global database Startup Genome now ranks Santiago as one of the top 20 “startup ecosystems” worldwide.

Private sector organizations are also putting their power behind the development of technological innovation. Dr. Gary Michelson’s 20 Million Minds Foundation supports non-profit initiatives, for-profit startups and policy thought leaders that utilize disruptive digital technologies to create a “higher education 3.0” system that can sustainably increase access, affordability and student success.

The foundation, formed by Dr. Gary Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson, partners and funds startup organizations like OpenStax College and the aforementioned Packback, that attempt to put a damper on the burgeoning expenses that students face in college tuition and textbook costs.

Technology is in the process of coming full circle, due to the power to the people type initiatives and by intelligent funding by institutions such as that of Dr. Gary Michelson, which can only be of benefit to us all.