Eric Lefkofsky makes you realize how little you’ve accomplished in your life. After receiving his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in 1993, Lefkofsky co-founded Brandon Apparel Group. Since that time, he and his business partner Brad Keywell, have launched at least eight other companies, three of which he took public, including an e-commerce marketplace company called The Point, which you may know better by its more recent name – Groupon. Lefkofsky still serves as Groupon’s chairman and is its biggest shareholder, but last year he stepped down as its CEO to pursue a different kind of venture.
At 47, the serial entrepreneur set his sights on cancer. He co-founded Tempus, a biotechnology company, with the aim of creating a vast library of cancer data and then pairing it with a search engine that will allow doctors to personalize treatments for their cancer patients.Cancer is an extremely complicated set of diseases. No single course of treatment or medication works best for every patient. Over the past few decades, mountains of data have accumulated through research and clinical case histories, but that data is spread throughout the world’s universities, cancer research centers and hospitals, and more is being added every day. Doctors simply don’t have the time to collect and analyze the data.
Lefkofsky wants Tempus to do the analytics for the oncologists. Ideally, a physician will be able to enter the medical and genomic history of a patient, and Tempus will reach out and find the research and results that most closely match the patient. This will allow the best treatment options tailored to the individual.Forbes puts Lefkofsky’s net worth at nearly $2 billion, and Groupon, one of the fastest growing companies in history, might be legacy enough for most people, but Lefkofsky didn’t rest on those laurels. Perhaps the reason lies in a statement he made in a recent interview. “You start a company when you believe you’ve identified a big problem — a problem painful enough that you want to spend time fixing it.”