Groupon Founder Eric Lefkofsky Sets His Sights on Cancer Treatment

At age 47, Eric Lefkofsky wasn’t looking to build a new startup and take it all the way through the IPO process. One of Chicago’s most-successful startup founders, Lefkofsky has already founded InnerWorkings, Echo Global Logistics, and local marketing giant Groupon. But when his wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with breast cancer, his exposure to the healthcare system for cancer patients inspired him to create Tempus, a medical start-up with the goal of disrupting cancer treatment and outdated health technology models.

Lefkofsky is betting his own money on the self-funded startup. He told ChicagoInno that Tempus has a huge opportunity success because it was born out of a “problem that needed a solution.” Going to medical appointments with his wife Elizabeth, Lefkofsky was stunned to realize that the technology doctors were using to determine how to treat her cancer was much inferior to technology his company Echo Global Logistics had developed to help truck drivers.

How was it possible, Lefkofsky wondered, that truck drivers had better technology than physicians who were charged with saving a cancer patient’s life?

Eric Lefkofsky and his business partner Brad Keywell, who is CEO of predictive analytics startup Uptake, envisioned a way that genomic sequencing data and machine learning could work together to give doctors a better picture of the information they needed to make the best treatment plans for cancer patients with . After 18 months, Tempus has partnered with approximately a dozen leading organizations in cancer treatment, including the University of Chicago, Northwestern, and the Mayo Clinic. Physicians at the clinics can refer a cancer patient to Tempus. The patients will have their genomic data sequenced at Tempus’ lab. The data is then paired with clinical treatment information and historical data and returned to the referring physician, who also receives access to Tempus’ operating system.

Tempus is “the most meaningful in every metric,” Lefkofsky told ChicagoInno editor Jim Dallke. The company has the opportunity to be bigger than any of Lefkofsky’s other startups which have successfully disrupted their sectors, like Groupon with local commerce and InnerWorkings with marketing.

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