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Eric Lefkofsky: From Developing Local Commerce to Fighting Cancer




Eric Lefkofsky, self-made billionaire, has focused his attention towards a new goal – fighting cancer.  Studies have found that 1 in 4 people in the United States will die from cancer. Lefkofsky was not previously involved in the medical field. However, he believes that bringing new technology to the field can change the future for cancer patients.

Who is Eric Lefkofsky?

Eric Lefkofsky’s first endeavor was selling carpets, back in his days of attending the University of Michigan. However, he made a name for himself in 2008, when he co-founded a little site called Groupon. The ecommerce site helps to build local commerce, and became wildly popular.

Lefkofsky is known as a serial entrepreneur. He has co-founded multiple businesses, including:

  • Lightbank – Venture Capital fund  that invests in businesses that include disruptive technologies.
  • Uptake Technologies – Helps businesses improve through a predictive analytics platform.
  • Mediaocean – Leading software platform for the advertising world that manages and coordinates the entire advertising workflow.
  • Echo Global Logistics – A technology-enabled transportation and logistics outsourcing firm.
  • InnerWorkings. – Provider of managed print and promotional solutions.
  • Lefkofsky and his wife work to give back to communities as well. They founded the Lefkofsky Family Foundation, which focuses on four key areas: quality education, human rights, medical research, and cultural initiatives.

The New Venture: Tempus

Although Lefkofsky has a very high net worth, money is not the driving factor behind the development of Tempus. Instead, the company was started to address a need within the medical field. After experiencing the cancer treatment process with a loved one, Lefkofsky found that “technology has not permeated health care and certainly oncology the way it has permeated other industries.”

Lefkofsky believes that the difference in the fight against cancer will come when the technology is available on a widespread basis. As a man who has built multiple companies based on the successful implementation of analytics, data, and technology, Lefkofsky finds that there is still a void which the industry has not yet met. Tempus is working to help fill it; and they aren’t the only ones. There are hundreds of startups using big data to work on changing the way we fight against cancer.

How is Tempus Different?

One of the problems in the medical field is the lack of time and technology to collect and analyze data. There are many hospitals that are collecting the data that is needed from their patients in order to look for patterns, however the resources to analyze the data is lacking. Meaning the knowledge doctors need to apply to determine which treatment to choose is lacking. That’s where Tempus comes in. The company will work with hospitals from across the country to collect clinical and molecular data from cancer patients .

Doctors who sequence their patients with Tempus will have access to new and improved software in exchange for their shared data. It will allow them to compare their patient’s genetics with other cancer patients around the country (or world). The software will help doctors to spot which treatments are most effective for patients with similar genetic makeups.

Tempus has already grown to over 100 employees, and has been in partnership with Northwestern’s Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center since the fall. In fact, they have recently expanded their partnership to include a second collaboration with a focus on personalizing a patient’s cancer care.

While we will need to watch and see if Lefkofsky is successful at improving the treatment process of cancer, his business track record is good. The success of his business can be credited to the reason that he starts them in the first place, he sees a need and realizes that he has a solution. And, now he is ready to take on helping fight against cancer. While he can’t predict the future, he has said, “I’m confident that in five or 10 years, the average oncologist will be connected to a system like Tempus.”

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