It’s no surprise that entrepreneur Eric Lefkofsky is investing in Rise of the Rest, a new organization that’s aiming to be a force for economic development.
Rise of the Rest Rises
Steve Case, who co-founded America Online in 1985, and author and businessman J.D. Vance have created an organization called Rise of the Rest. Its mission is to help businesses, technology firms in particular, thrive far away from places like Silicon Valley.
The two entrepreneurs believe that, as a result of these efforts, the U.S. economy will be strengthened, and wealth will be distributed more evenly across the country’s population. Jobs should become more plentiful as well, especially in the ailing Rust Belt. The Rust Belt includes several Midwestern states.
These investments could affect politics and culture as well. The leaders of Rise of the Rest feel that varying economic conditions separate the populace. People who live in economically successful areas often have trouble identifying with those who live in struggling regions and vice versa. Thus, social divisions harden, and a sense of national unity becomes difficult to achieve.
Rise of the Rest launched with $150 million. Among its investors are such titans of industry as Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, and Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.
To secure funding from Rise of the Rest, companies must pitch themselves to the organization, and the process is competitive. The foundation is looking for firms that are dedicated to innovation, and it’s especially interested in those that deal with transportation, medicine, and agriculture.
A Multitude of Businesses
Eric Lefkofsky’s career has basically consisted of founding one company after another. Given the nature of the corporate world, not every one of his organizations has prospered. Nevertheless, his success rate has been high. On top of that, his businesses have helped advance the technology and medical sectors in significant ways.
Eric Paul Lefkofsky was born in Detroit in 1969. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School. Eric’s first major professional venture after law school was purchasing an apparel company with a friend he’d met in college.
Eric is probably most famous for co-founding Groupon, an online platform through which members can find deals and discounts on a vast array of goods and services.
Eric is also one of the founders of a venture capital fund called Lightbank, which supports companies that introduce high-tech breakthroughs to society.
In 2007, Eric published the book “Accelerated Disruption: Understanding the True Speed of Innovation.” It explains how businesses can adapt to keep pace with technological developments.
Tempus, Cancer Care, and Biotechnology
A project that’s been close to Eric’s heart in recent years is Tempus. Tempus is a business that’s created an operating system for doctors to use. With this interactive guide, they can tailor their cancer treatments to individual patients, which makes their care more effective. Currently, Eric is the CEO of Tempus.
Eric came up with the idea for Tempus when a person he loves was diagnosed with cancer. He was surprised to realize that the medical profession wasn’t utilizing large databases or machine learning to decide upon courses of treatment.
These days, Eric is excited about biotechnology in general. He believes that researchers will soon be able to examine the human body in entirely new ways and eradicate diseases that have been around for many centuries.
Charity Begins at the Lefkofsky Home
Eric’s humanitarian efforts have been as influential as his corporate endeavors. He and Liz Lefkofsky, his wife, set up the Lefkofsky Family Foundation in 2006, and they serve as its co-chairs.
Liz has been involved in charity work since childhood. Her mother co-founded the American Brain Tumor Association in 1973, and Liz would help her mom put the group’s letters into envelopes.
The Lefkofsky Family Foundation supplies funding to a wide range of community organizations, all of which have an impact on the populations that they serve. In its mission statement, the foundation says that it’s striving to promote and strengthen human rights, cultural and educational groups, and medical research.
Eric Lefkofsky is also a trustee or a board member of numerous institutions. They include the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. He teaches at the University of Chicago as well.
It’s almost a certainty that Eric Lefkofsky has many more ideas when it comes to charitable undertakings and business enterprises. His many customers and fans around the world should benefit from his labors well into the future.
Follow Lefkofsky on Twitter @lefkofsky