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Groupon Made Eric Lefkofsky A Billionaire—His Cancer-Fighting Startup Is Worth Far More

Eric Lefkofsky hasn’t taken a science class since college. But as he meanders through the Chicago lab of Tempus, his medical startup, he presents an air of expertise. “One thing you can see right off the bat is the purple staining of this cell,” he says, pointing to the pathology slide of a patient with breast cancer. He walks past vials of lysis buffer and a $1 million genomic sequencer. “Tempus is attempting to bring the power of artificial intelligence to healthcare,” he says. “The first step in all that is data.”

Assembling data was the first step in Lefkofsky’s other ventures. The 49-year-old has launched five companies worth at least $250 million apiece, each promising to transform an industry by using big data. His best-known venture is Groupon; despite the deals site’s disappointing share price, Lefkofsky is worth an estimated $2.7 billion.

Tempus is predicated on the theory that information, lots of it, will enable doctors to personalize cancer treatments and make them more effective. A doctor treating a patient with lung cancer might send a tumor sample to Tempus for genomic sequencing. Tempus identifies a mutation in the gene for epidermal growth factor receptor, which causes cells to grow and divide too much. With that, the doctor prescribes a targeted therapy that can have better results than chemotherapy.

So far the 700-employee company has raised $520 million (Lefkofsky put in $100 million). The lavish $3.1 billion valuation suggests investors expect his approach to make a big score, starting with cancer, then against chronic conditions like depression and diabetes. But precision medicine is a nascent field. Tempus, on its own or with a research partner, has published fewer than 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts since its founding four years ago. A competitor, sequencing firm Foundation Medicine, has published over 400 in 9 years.

While the cost of sequencing has dropped, it still runs $1,000 to $5,000 per analysis, and Tempus loses money doing it. Tempus also licenses its library of anonymized data to drug companies, insurers and researchers. Lefkofsky won’t reveal revenues, but says it gets seven-figure fees from seven of the ten largest cancer drug companies.

Lefkofsky got the entrepreneurial bug at the University of Michigan, where he studied history and made money selling carpets. In 2001, he cofounded InnerWorkings (marketing), then Echo Global Logistics (transportation) and Mediaocean (advertising software). One of Lefkofsky’s hires, Andrew Mason, pitched an idea for a business focused on “collective action.” Lefkofsky invested $1 million in what became Groupon. A year after its 2008 founding, it booked $14.5 million in revenue; in 2011, it generated $1.6 billion.

“It certainly feels like my entire career has led to this point,” Lefkofsky says. “I hope this will be my legacy project.”

Lefkofsky spent a few years dabbling on other projects, including Uptake (predictive analytics for heavy industry). “I always knew back then, [with] those businesses, that I would be in and out,” he says.

In 2014, Lefkofsky’s wife, Liz, was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I was just perplexed at how little data had permeated her care,” he says. That experience ultimately launched Tempus. (Liz has “been taking it one day at a time,” Lefkofsky says.)

Yet again, Lefkofsky needed data. But some researchers were initially hesitant to share. “They wanted us to basically send all our samples there for all our patients” in the future, says John McPherson, deputy director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “But we took a more cautious approach.” They ran a head-to-head comparison involving gastrointestinal cancer between Tempus and Foundation Medicine; Tempus fared well.

                       

In 2017 Tempus reached a licensing agreement with the American Society of Clinical Oncology to extract and organize data from 1 million patient records. Today the company says it already works with 30% of U.S. oncologists; many send patient records and biopsies to Tempus for analysis. Tempus hopes to sequence 120,000 genomic samples for doctors this year.

Even with that data, Tempus faces stiff competition. Last year Swiss drug giant Roche spent $4.3 billion acquiring Foundation Medicine and big data firm Flatiron Health. Another startup, Concerto HealthAI, backed by billionaire Romesh Wadhwani, has access to many of the same records as Tempus.

                           

Doctors at UC Davis, McPherson says, have only sent about 100 samples to Tempus, considerably fewer than they’ve sent to Foundation. “I think they were a little baffled by the amount of data that came back [from Tempus],” McPherson says. Clinicians “tend to take the easier route just to save time. But there are several clinicians that are now working fairly closely on the research side with them.”

Lefkofsky remains supremely optimistic. “It certainly feels like my entire career has led to this point,” he says. “I hope this will be my legacy project.”

I’ve been a reporter at Forbes since 2016. Before that, I spent a year on the road—driving for Uber in Cleveland, volcano climbing in Guatemala, cattle farming in Urugua…

Staff writer at Forbes. Email me at mtindera@forbes.com and follow me on twitter @mtindera07.

Source: Groupon Made Eric Lefkofsky A Billionaire—His Cancer-Fighting Startup Is Worth Far More

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Crypto Startups Are Fleeing The U.S.—This Bill Is Trying To Stop Them

In the fall of 2018, Republican congressman Warren Davidson was meeting with a cryptocurrency entrepreneur in Massachusetts. The CEO was deciding where to locate his startup, and they were discussing the regulatory uncertainties surrounding digital currencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs). The entrepreneur told Davidson, “Look, it’s nothing personal. We just don’t trust that you guys are gonna get this done right.

Source: Crypto Startups Are Fleeing The U.S.—This Bill Is Trying To Stop Them

Healthcare Startups Have Raised More This Year Than in 2012 And 2013 Combined – Michela Tindera

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With two months left in 2018, healthcare startups have already raised more in VC funding this year than they did in all of 2012 and 2013 combined, according to an analysis conducted for Forbes by Pitchbook. Venture capitalists have poured more than $26 billion into health startups this year. In 2012 and 2013 combined, the sector raised $22.3 billion in 12 months. So far this year that $26.3 billion has been spread among 1,540 deals, which is slightly less than half the 3,103 deals that took place in 2012 and 2013………

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michelatindera/2018/11/02/healthcare-startups-have-raised-more-this-year-than-in-2012-and-2013-combined/#521a6b867ac7

 

 

 

 

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How Does Influencer Marketing Work in Healthcare

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The principle behind influencer marketing is simple: If someone who is trusted or admired by many other people expresses a preference for a product or service, then others will give it a try. Marketers in a wide range of industries have long directed their efforts at celebrated individuals as a relatively inexpensive way of getting the word out about a product, especially when compared to the cost of a television ad buy. The proliferation of social media took this strategy to a whole new level, making it easy for a well-known person to convey a sponsored message instantly to thousands or millions of followers.

Sales and marketing departments at life sciences organizations have taken notice of the increasing relevance of influencer campaigns, and many want in on the action. Of course, it’s challenging to apply the same concepts to medical devices or pharmaceuticals with the strict rules in place to regulate communications and protect patient privacy. However, a clear perspective on how influencer marketing works and extensive access to physician data make it possible for businesses to guide the right people to information about medical products.

Influencer marketing in medicine

Given the restrictions on sharing information, many physicians have been reluctant to embrace social media. In the Healthlink Dimensions Annual Healthcare Professional Survey for 2018, 28.6 percent of respondents said they used social networking sites to communicate with other physicians and healthcare professionals, but few used these platforms to connect with patients or life sciences organizations. The majority, at 66 percent, said they opted out of social media altogether.

Nonetheless, influencer marketing has made headway in medical marketing in recent years. Initiating online contact with key healthcare decision-makers and thinkers is often a major step toward making sales and promoting beneficial policies. Pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers can gain an advantage by finding clinical partners that carry weight in the medical community and forming relationships with particular physicians and executives willing to promote the brand to others.

Meanwhile, patients are flexing their own newfound clout through social media accounts. WIRED reported on people with chronic diseases who regularly post about their struggles and triumphs, including photos and popular hashtags. Healthcare startups, marketing research firms and brand strategy agencies have seized the chance to network and collaborate with these individuals.

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Hewing carefully to regulations, marketers have begun working with patient influencers in bringing attention to life sciences brands. By looking at what individuals have to say, companies gain new perspective into what it’s like living with the chronic conditions that their products treat. Such relationships have thus proven invaluable to a number of businesses and may prove a vital part of many more marketing strategies in the future.

Targeting communications to key healthcare decision-makers

While influencer marketing is a burgeoning force in the world of healthcare, life sciences organizations must still concentrate on nurturing relationships on a smaller scale. Individual physicians and administrators play vital roles in driving purchases for their facilities. With the precipitous decline of in-person access to medical professionals, marketers and salespeople have to form connections online.

Email has solidly established its place as the best means for sending information and promotions to healthcare providers. A strategic physician email marketing campaign can be the start of communications with professionals who come to champion a product or firm throughout the purchase process. Optimizing these efforts depends on gaining a clear perspective into the needs of the doctors who participate in the decisions to buy pharmaceuticals or medical devices and segmenting accordingly.

By working from up-to-date contact information, representatives reliably get through to doctors. Messages should be targeted and customized by drawing on data such as institutional affiliations and areas of specialization. Taking into account where healthcare providers work and the demographics they serve, marketers can tailor messaging to capture and hold their interest.

A deeper engagement with details like the treatments a doctor commonly employs to treat certain conditions will permit even more precise segmentation. Addressing the precise needs of physicians with a wealth of informative materials encourages them to advocate for a product all the way through a long purchase journey. Delivering quality results and nurturing relationships may persuade key individuals in health systems to wield their significant influence on the behalf of a life sciences organization.

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