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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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It’s Not About Ideas. Do What Amazon, Netflix, Uber And AirBnb Did, Head For A Blue Ocean

In this July 1, 2014 photo, Dollar Shave Club CEO and co-founder Michael Dubin poses for photos at the company's headquarters in Venice, Calif.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

If you want to become an entrepreneur but don’t know where to start, relax. It’s not about ideas, it’s about understanding and researching current industries that have not innovated their products or services and have a large customer market. If you think about what Netflix, Amazon, Uber and AirBnb did, you can clearly see, they created nothing new in terms of products. So, what did they do? They changed the “game” in an industry that was not being innovative and was ripe for disruption. In other words, they headed for a “blue ocean” made famous by management thought leaders W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne in their perennial bestseller, Blue Ocean Strategy.

Blue Ocean Strategy is an approach that challenges everything that you thought you knew about the requirements for entrepreneurial success. Blue Ocean Strategy can be summarized in a nutshell: the best way to beat the competition is to make the competition irrelevant. Imagine that the marketplace is comprised of two sorts of oceans: red oceans and blue oceans.

To discover an elusive blue ocean, Kim and Mauborgne recommend that businesses consider what they call the Four Actions Framework to reconstruct buyer value elements in crafting a new innovation wave. The framework poses four key questions:

  • Raise: What factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard?
  • Reduce: What factors were a result of competing against other industries and can be reduced?
  • Eliminate: Which factors that the industry has long competed on should be eliminated?
  • Create: Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?

If you think about it, lets review what these market leaders did with Blue Ocean Strategy in mind. Amazon did not build bookstores but built an enterprise infrastructure to have access to one million book titles and competed well with Borders and Barnes & Noble. Netflix did not use stores in their business model to compete with Blockbuster; instead they focused on customer service. Uber did not even try to buy cars and compete with the independent taxi companies, they created a mobile app. AirBnb does not own homes or hotels, instead they redefined the travel experience by uniting existing property owners onto a common easy-to-use platform.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, third from left, takes a photograph as he attends the opening bell ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange, as his company makes its initial public offering, Friday, May 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, third from left, takes a photograph as he attends the opening bell ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange, as his company makes its initial public offering, Friday, May 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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Existing marketplaces with lots of competitors live in crowded, shark-ridden red oceans. Red oceans are characterized by multiple firms offering similar products competing mostly on price. Think Target versus Wal-Mart, Sony versus Samsung.  Meanwhile, blue oceans are characterized by untapped market space, demand creation, and the opportunity for highly profitable growth.

In recent years, Dollar Shave Club took on Gillette by offering subscription-based access to razors at a better cost and service. As a potential entrepreneur, just examine large industries or product lines and see if customers are happy with their current choices. Wherever you find customers are not ecstatic, dig deeper. A few years back, Chobani did the same thing to yogurt by offering Greek yogurt, more protein and less sugar. None of these examples showcase a completely new, never heard of before product. But all these companies either innovated the current product in the marketplace or they offered a simple innovation or twist to the business model for their company. In almost every case, the customer is happier with the new company or product. That means they were dissatisfied before these companies came along.

If you want to get a jumpstart on surfacing an opportunity, pay attention to something new you see (craft beer, organic pet food, cloud storage, etc.) and do some research.  Or go to places where you can observe people: malls, airports, universities and just walk around. See what people are doing and not doing. Don’t look for anything in particular, just observe. Another option is to walk through Target or Wal-Mart and slowly walk up and down the aisles. Look for current products that seem over priced or they don’t exactly make the customer ecstatic. Then research how big that industry category actually is. If it’s billions, keep going. Run a few of your best “opportunities” through the Blue Ocean Strategy framework of raise, reduce, eliminate and create.

The founders of Skullcandy did something similar by walking through Target to spot their earphone opportunity. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to solve a problem in a big marketplace. To spot a problem, go looking. Once you find some problems, use Blue Ocean Strategy to innovate a solution and perhaps you will create a billion dollar company.

You can read more about what Bernhard has to say on his website and follow him here on his Linked In

I am the Director at the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, San Diego State University. I oversee all of the center’s undergraduate and graduate experiential programs.

Source: It’s Not About Ideas. Do What Amazon, Netflix, Uber And AirBnb Did, Head For A Blue Ocean.

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

Brex Has Amassed A Valuation Of $1.1 Billion In Under Two Years – Donna Fuscaldo

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Brex, the provider of a credit card for startups, has raised $125 million in venture funding, propelling the company into unicorn status with a $1.1 billion valuation. Earlier Friday the San Francisco-based startup announced it closed a $125 million Series C round of funding with Greenoaks Capital and DST Global leading the investment round. This comes on the heels of $50 million raised in June. Since changing course a little more than a year-and-a-half ago, Brex has been able to amass a valuation of more than $1 billion…….

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/donnafuscaldo/2018/10/05/brex-has-amassed-a-valuation-of-1-1-billion-in-under-two-years/#47f0025b65a1

 

 

 

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