Eric Lefkofsky is a serial entrepreneur. For over 20 years he has played a role in co-founding a series of very lucrative companies in a wide variety of industries. Born and raised in Michigan, Lefkofsky began his business career while attending the University of Michigan. His first foray into entrepreneurship was selling carpet on campus. He so enjoyed the experience that when he completed his undergraduate degree and graduated from law school at the University of Michigan in 1993, he teamed up with college friend Brad Keywell and purchased Brandon Apparel a Wisconsin-based apparel company.
That was just the beginning of Lefkofsky’s entrepreneurial ventures. In 1999, Lefkofsky and Keywell co-founded Starbelly, an internet company specializing in promotional products. The duo went on to co-found the print procurement services company InnerWorkings two years later. In 2005 Lefkofsky and Keywell started Echo Global Logistics, a freight logistics company and in 2006 they co-founded the media-buying technology company MediaBank. The company creates software advertisers use to plan, purchase and do accounting and analysis. The company eventually merged with Donavan Data Systems to form Mediaocean. The deal was valued at $1.5 billion.
In January 2007, Eric Lefkofsky invested $1,000,000 and worked with Andrew Mason to co-founded the online collective action website ThePoint.com. The company’s name was changed to Groupon.com the next year. The company was widely embraced by consumers and received over $165 million in investments. By 2010 it had a valuation of $135 billion and Forbes magazine called Groupon.com history’s fastest growing company. Google attempted to buy Groupon for $6 billion but was rebuffed. Groupon then received another round of private funding in excess of $950 million.
But Eric Lefkofsky wasn’t done yet. He and Keywell co-founded venture capital firm Lightbank, to help develop new Chicago area companies. They also co-founded analytics company Uptake, LLC and technology company Tempus. The technologies created by Tempus helps physicians provide cancer patients with personalized care. Lefkofsky has also become deeply involved in philanthropy. With Elizabeth his wife, Eric Lefkofsky created the charitable trust called the Lefkofsky Foundation. The organization which focuses on children is dedicated to supporting educational, scientific and charitable organizations worldwide. The Lefkofsky’s also joined The Giving Pledge.
With all his business commitments Lefkofsky still finds time to give back to the community. He’s on the board of community organizations including Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry, Steppenwolf Theatre Company and World Business Chicago. Eric Lefkofsky also teaches Applied Technology at DePaul University, Disruptive Business Models at Northwestern University and Building Technology-Based Businesses and Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago. Lefkofsky also wrote ‘Accelerated Disruption’. The book deals with the effect technology has on business.