Serial entrepreneur and philanthropist Eric Lefkofsky has helped to create almost one dozen successful companies. He has also given generously of his time, talent and money to support charitable organizations in Chicago and nationwide. He has started his own charitable organization called the Lefkofsky Foundation that focused on supporting children in need. The foundation has provided financial support for more than 50 philanthropic organizations so far. He is also a member of the Giving Pledge, a group of very wealthy individuals committed to giving away a large portion of their wealth.
Raised in Michigan, Lefkofsky graduated from the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Law School. While still an undergrad, Lefkofsky got his first taste of business by selling carpeting on campus. After graduating law school, he teamed up with classmate Brad Keywell, pooled their resources, borrowed from relatives and bought Brandon Apparel, a Madison, Wisconsin-based apparel company, in 1993. Over the next 20 years they would go on to co-found companies in a variety of industries. Those companies have done well financially and several of them have had a profound social impact.
In 1999 Lefkofsky and Keywell co-founded internet-based promotional products company Starbelly. The duo then founded InnerWorkings, a print procurement services company in 2001, freight logistics company Echo Global Logistics in 2005 and media-buying technology company MediaBank in 2006. MediaBank would have an estimated value of $1.5 billion by 2012. Eric Lefkofsky joined forces with Andrew Mason in 2007 to co-found an online collective action company called ThePoint.com. They changed its name to Groupon.com the next year. Groupon went on to be the world’s fastest growing company.
Lefkofsky also co-founded the venture capital company Lightbank in 2010 and analytics company Uptake in 2014. In 2016 Eric Lefkofsky co-founded a technology company called Tempus. The company produces technology that helps physicians provide cancer patients with personalized care. Lefkofsky is also on the board of directors of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, the Museum of Science and Industry, World Business Chicago and others.
Lefkofsky has begun teaching in business schools in and around Chicago. They include Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. He teaches entrepreneurship, disruptive business models, Applied Technology and building technology-based businesses. Lefkofsky also wrote ‘Accelerated Disruption’. The book looks at how technology affects business.