Posts by Karl L. Hughes

Prioritizing After an Inspirational Weekend

On Friday and Saturday we had our first ever Packback team retreat. We did a mix of activities designed to help the team grow closer together and cement a unified mission and values for the company. This is the first time I’ve been with a company that is truly run by idealistic leaders who want to embody our values, […]

Knowing Your Startup’s Technical Maturity Level

Developing software or products at a startup is a gradual process. I’ve often talked about how I don’t believe software needs to be perfect from day 1 – in fact, I think non-technical founders should get as far as they reasonably can on their MVP’s before investing in engineering resources. Engineers are expensive; and until […]

Knowing When Your Business is Ready to Launch

Yesterday I had meetings with two aspiring young entrepreneurs. Both are at the ideation/pre-revenue stage; both are pursuing their first startup; both are young; both have solid ideas that probably have a way to make money; both have a first version of their product ready; both have relationships with potential paying customers. The big difference between the […]

Announcement: We’re Hiring Engineers at Packback

2015 has been a really exciting year for us at Packback. We released a complete rebuild of our eCommerce platform at, we brought on our fourth full-time engineer, we started contributing to the open source community, we hired our first three full-time salespeople, we raised another $1.5 million, and now we’re even more excited to announce that […]

Continuous Integration on a Budget

A lot of people may assume that continuous integration is a luxury afforded only to companies with dedicated devops teams and massive budgets. That certainly used to be the case, but this is no longer true thanks to dozens of software tools and open source projects that are cheap enough for even the smallest startup to afford. In fact, […]

How Packback is Making Used Textbook Prices more Open for Everyone

Like a lot of startups, we rely heavily on open source software at Packback, and while it’s fun to be able to spin up a project quickly with Laravel or Angular, we’ve long been looking for ways to give back to the open source community. This summer, we’ve released a  few small open source projects, but the one I’m […]

Security Tips for Engineers at Early Stage Startups

It’s rare for early stage startups to make security a high priority. You don’t hear two first-time founders bouncing ideas off each other that include a plan for mitigating phishing attacks on their early employees. 1. Someone needs to own security The first problem with security at a startup is that someone needs to really own it. That […]

Using Feed43 and Feedly to Subscribe to YouTube Searches

YouTube recently shut down their v2 API and along with it, RSS feeds for searches. They now want you to use their v3 API, which is fine…if you want to spend a bunch of time building a full-blown application just to grab the latest search results on YouTube. Needless to say, I didn’t really want […]

Writing a Slackbot to Help our Business Access Data at Packback

Slack is a messaging tool that’s quickly become ubiquitous in large and small companies alike. It’s basically like a walled off version of AOL Instant Messenger (you guys remember that from the early 00’s right?) for your company’s internal communication. They have apps for iOS and Android, desktop clients, and a web interface, making Slack super […]