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Brad Keywell grew up in Michigan, where he studied at the prestigious private school of Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Schools. His taste for business began since he was six years old when he sold greeting cards. He acquired experience in the world of entrepreneurship at Equity Group Investments, where he spent summers as an intern when he was a student.
Instead of going to the West Coast, Brad Keywell decided to settle in Chicago to undertake technology together with his partner Eric Lefkofsky, whom he met at the university. In 1999, they founded the Internet company Starbelly, which offered a platform to manage the supply chain of promotional products. In less than a year, Ha-Lo, a marketing company, bought the startup for $ 240 million.
In February 2005, Keywell founded Echo Global Logistics, a shipping and logistics company that began trading on NASDAQ in January 2006.
The magic year for Keywell and his partner was 2007. This year, they created a company that provides operating systems for the media industry called MediaBank and bought Datatech in June, a platform for media planning. In July, Mediabank received investment from New Enterprises Associate. However, Keywell's star venture this year would be ThePoint.com, a website for collective action.
Keywell founded ThePoint.com together with Lefkofsky and Andrew Mason in January 2007. In 2008, the platform became a site for collective buying and changed the name to Groupon. Forbes pointed to Groupon as the fastest-growing company in history in 2010. In 2011, Groupon began trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
A delayed flight at the airport due to a technical failure inspired Keywell to create another billionaire startup. In 2014, He founded Uptake Technologies, a startup that takes advantage of artificial intelligence. Uptake allows that companies identify in time when a piece of their machinery will have failures and thus be able to replace or repair it on time. Uptake soon became the third unicorn in Illinois.
Brad Keywell is also known for being a philanthropist in Chicago. In 2011, Keywell founded, together with his wife, the Keywell Foundation, which supports and promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. In that same year, Keywell founded Chicago Ideas, a non-profit organization that broadcasts seminars on business and social problems.
Keywell is part of other non-profit organizations such as Future Founders or The Illinois Innovation Council. In 2018, Keywell created the Wndr Museum, a space for experiential art in Chicago.
In 2015, Forbes named Uptake Technologies as the startup of the year. In 2017, CNBC named Keywell as the fifth largest disruptor in its CNBC Disruptor 50 ranking. EY awarded Keywell as the Entrepreneur of the year 2019.
Whitney Wolfe Herd is an American entrepreneur. She is the founder and CEO of Bumble, a social and dating app.
Lisa T. Su is the President and CEO of AMD, an American multinational semiconductor company.
Elizabeth Cormier-May is the CEO and member of the board of directors of Mammogen, a women’s health startup.
Eric Ries is an American entrepreneur, blogger, and writer, founder of IMVU, creator of the Lean Startup method, and CEO of Long-Term Stock Exchange.