American entrepreneur Eric Lefkofsky was born and raised in Michigan by his parents, a school teacher and a structural engineer. After graduating from high school, he went to the University of Michigan, eventually receiving his Juris Doctor in 1993.
After graduation, he teamed up with a college friend, Brad Keywell, to purchase a Wisconsin apparel company with borrowed money. Purchasing Brandon Apparel would be the beginning of a long and successful career for the pair.
In 1999, Lefkofsky and his college friend created an internet company, Starbelly. This company specialized in promotional products and experienced quick success. Starbelly was sold in 2000 to Halo Industries where Eric Lefkofsky was appointed COO. After Starbelly’s success, Lefkofsky helped co-found the company InnerWorkings in 2001. This company provided print services for companies and after success, had a successful public offering in NASDAQ.
In 2005, Lefkofsky and his friend moved on to found Echo Global Logistics, a freight logistics company. This new company attracted financing from a large technology investor, New Enterprise Associates. Only a year later, the duo founded a company that focused on media-buying technology. MediaBank went on to acquire Datatech in 2007 and eventually merged with Donovan Data Systems to create Mediaocean in 2012.
In 2007, Lefkofsky not only co-founded but funded a new online collective action website, ThePoint.com. In 2008, ThePoint.com changed its name. Groupon.com would become history’s fastest growing company, according to Forbes. In just 3 years, the company had an estimated value of over $1 billion.
In 2010, the successful pair founded a Chicago-based venture firm named Lightbank, with the focus of developing new companies and start-ups in the area. Four years later, in 2014, Uptake,LLC was co-founded by Lefkofsky. Uptake, LLC was an analytics company. In 2016, he co-founded Tempus, a company that specialized in delivering personalized cancer care.
Aside from his many business endeavors, Eric Lefkofsky is also a philanthropist, active member in the community, and a valued teacher. In 2006, alongside his wife, he founded the Lefkofsky Foundation. This charitable trust provides funding for scientific, educational, and charitable organizations all over the world.
He also sits on the board at many Chicago-based organizations like The Museum of Science and Industry, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. He is also on the board at World Business Chicago and a Trustee of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company.
After his initial success as an entrepreneur, Lefkofsky began teaching business at local schools. He has taught at places like Northwestern University and DePaul University. He currently holds a position as Professor teaching a class on entrepreneurship and building businesses at the University of Chicago. Eric Lefkofsky is even an accomplished writer, with his book Accelerated Disruption being recently published.