Chicago-based Fund, Lightbank, to Invest Up To $100 Million in Technology Start-Ups



Fund Raising News

Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, two of Chicago’s leading technology entrepreneurs are looking to support other Mid-west talent by providing up to $10 million per year in early stage funding. In addition, they plan to guide and nurture their entrepeneurs through their early years.

Press release: CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, two of Chicago’s leading technology entrepreneurs, plan to invest as much as $10 million annually in early-stage technology companies through a new fund called Lightbank ( The entrepreneurs behind Groupon, MediaBank, InnerWorkings (NASDAQ:INWK) and Echo Global Logistics (NASDAQ:ECHO) have already raised over $150 million and generated more than $1.5 billion in investor returns through their existing ventures.

With the launch of Lightbank, Lefkofsky and Keywell will contribute their resources and expertise to foster a vibrant, active community of Midwest technology entrepreneurs who are short on capital, but flush with innovative ideas.

“Chicago is full of untapped entrepreneurial talent that just needs a little support,” said Lefkofsky. “Lightbank will be a driving force behind break-through ideas and help establish this city as a technology hub.”

In addition to investing capital, Lightbank will take an active role in guiding and nurturing companies through all stages of growth, from effectively scaling technology and finding the optimal business model to securing further growth investment and ultimately exiting the business.

Lefkofsky and Keywell, who met at the University of Michigan, have a history of starting new ventures that have shaken up industries with long-standing business models.

In 2001, Lefkofsky founded InnerWorkings, a print and procurement company that was taken public in 2006. In 2005, Lefkofsky and Keywell started Echo Global Logistics, a transportation and logistics management company that went public in 2009. In 2006, they co-founded MediaBank, a data-driven media-buying platform that now processes nearly 20 percent of the media purchased annually in the United States. In 2007, they co-founded Groupon, a collective buying site and their first foray into a consumer-facing business. Groupon now operates in over 40 cities, has more than three million subscribers and has raised $36 million from New Enterprise Associates and Accel Partners.

“Our success with Groupon has created a tremendous amount of interest from consumer-facing Internet-based start-ups in search of funding and support,” said Keywell. “Our formula for high-growth, high-return firms in business services has translated very well to the consumer market, and we believe there are many opportunities to further build on our skills and resources.”

Lightbank will focus on venture investments in early-stage companies in a number of industries. “So far we’ve only scratched the surface of industries that follow antiquated business processes, where technology can be leveraged to realize cost-savings and create value,” said Lefkofsky. “Lightbank will allow us to identify and invest in promising business model innovations and quickly take them to market.”

About Lightbank

Lightbank is a Chicago-based fund focused on early-stage technology companies. Founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, who started Groupon, MediaBank, InnerWorkings (NASDAQ:INWK) and Echo Global Logistics (NASDAQ:ECHO), will invest up to $10 million annually and take an active role in helping entrepreneurs turn early-stage ideas into successful businesses.

Related Fusion DigiNet Article: Groupon has raised a Series B financing round of $30 million, 2nd December 2009

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