RedShelf avoids VC, raises $2 mln in Series A funding

RedShelf, a Chicago-based distributor of e-textbooks, has raised $2 million in Series A funding from the National Association of College Stores and previous investors, but chose to avoid venture capital investors. RedShelf plans to partner with 350 bookstores this year building on its 2014 growth that went from 20 bookstores to 160. RedShelf originally raised $1 million from angel investors in Detroit, where the company’s co-CEOs grew up.

Press Release

RedShelf, a Chicago-based startup spurring digital adoption in higher education and one of the fastest-growing distributors of eTextbooks in the U.S., has raised $2M in Series A funding from the National Association of College Stores (NACS) and previous investors. The company considered a variety of funding sources, including VC, but ultimately determined that NACS along with its current investors would be the best fit. RedShelf will use the funding to launch new features and products, improve upon the existing platform, and support new relationships with both publishers and educational institutions.

RedShelf plans to partner with at least 350 bookstores by the end of 2015, building on the explosive growth of 2014 where the company grew from 20 bookstores to 160. This has attracted the attention of publishers and higher education players as eTextbooks continue to build momentum among college students. Last month, RedShelf was the first edtech startup to partner directly with all five major academic publishers which included Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Cengage, Macmillan and John Wiley & Sons. RedShelf now partners with more than 400 independent publishers and has more than 160,000 titles available.

eTextbooks have struggled to gain traction in the past, with complicated download processes, cumbersome software, and resistance from college administration; making it a less attractive option for students. RedShelf believes the combination of affordable options, user-friendly software, and a high level of customer service is the secret sauce to a new era for eTextbooks, with RedShelf and NACS at the forefront leading the charge.

“Working with NACS is a natural fit for us as we continue accelerating digital adoption at colleges across the country. There is no way that 10 years from now backpacks will be filled with paper textbooks,” said Greg Fenton, co-founder and CEO at RedShelf. “Students expect great software in education just like they do with social media, online shopping, or game applications. Ultimately, this gives students more convenient options when purchasing learning materials.”

“What we saw was a company that shares our commitment to the independent college store,” says Ed Schlichenmayer, deputy CEO of NACS and COO of NACS subsidiary indiCo. “It’s a very store-friendly model, with no upfront costs for the store.”

RedShelf initially raised more than $1M in seed funding from various angel investors out of Detroit, where RedShelf founders CEO Greg Fenton and CFO Tim Haitaian grew up.

About RedShelf

RedShelf, a leading supplier of digital learning materials, dedicated to providing paramount technology to the learning community in order to accelerate the transition to digital. In collaboration with strategic partners, publishers, institutional bookstores, and other content creators, RedShelf streamlines the discovery and distribution of eBooks and other digital course materials for today’s students. Utilizing a seamless browser-based eReader solution along with a powerful eCommerce engine, RedShelf provides easily accessible and affordable learning materials to learners everywhere. Please visit for additional information.

About NACS

Headquartered in Oberlin, Ohio, the National Association of College Stores (NACS) is the professional trade association representing the $10 billion collegiate retailing industry. NACS represents nearly 3,000 collegiate retailers and approximately 1,000 associate members who supply books and other products to college stores. NACS member stores serve America’s college students while supporting the academic missions of higher education institutions everywhere. Additional information on NACS can be found online at