Brad Keywell (born October 1969) is an entrepreneur based in Chicago. He is co-founder and CEO of Uptake, a predictive analytics SaaS platform provider that empowers companies in major industries to optimize performance, reduce asset failures and enhance safety. He is a Managing Partner and co-founder of Lightbank, a venture fund investing in disruptive technology businesses. He is a co-founder and director of Groupon. He is a co-founder and director of Mediaocean, which provides integrated technology operating systems to the advertising and media buying industry. He is a co-founder and director of Echo Global Logistics, a technology-based enterprise transportation management firm. In 2015 Brad and his wife Kim took The Giving Pledge to give away half of their wealth. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, teaching a course along with Eric Lefkofsky entitled "Building Internet Startups."
Early life and education
Keywell grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and attended Cranbrook Schools. He attended the University of Michigan where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration with honors in 1991. Keywell also attended the University of Michigan Law School, where he received his Juris Doctor cum laude in 1993. Keywell studied at the London School of Economics in 1990 and he is a member of the Michigan Bar Association and the State Bar of Illinois.
In 1999, Keywell co-founded Starbelly, an online promotional product supply chain management technology firm, with Eric Lefkofsky. In January, 2000, HA-LO (NYSE:HMK) acquired Starbelly for a purchase price of $240 million.
Keywell was previously with Equity Group Investments, LLC, Sam Zell's investment vehicle. He is currently a member of the board of trustees of Equity Residential (NYSE:EQR), an S&P 500 company.
In February 2005, Keywell and Lefkofsky founded Echo Global Logistics, a technology-based enterprise transportation management firm. New Enterprise Associates (NEA), one of the largest technology investors in the country, was an investor in Echo. In 2009, Echo Global Logistics went public on the NASDAQ under the symbol ECHO.
In June 2006, Keywell and Lefkofsky founded MediaBank, a technology company providing operating systems to the advertising and media buying industry. In 2012, MediaBank merged with Donovan Data Systems (DDS) to form Mediaocean.
In 2007, along with Andrew Mason, Keywell and Lefkofsky co-founded ThePoint.com, an online collective action website. In late 2008, ThePoint.com became a collective buying platform and the name was changed to Groupon. Groupon went public in November, 2011 on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the symbol GRPN.
In February 2010, Keywell and Lefkofsky founded Lightbank, a firm that invests in disruptive technology businesses. Lightbank has made over eighty investments.
In 2014, Keywell and Lefkofsky ventured into the world of analytics with their company Uptake. Chicago-based Uptake is a predictive analytics company that, in early 2015, announced its partnership with construction giant Caterpillar, Inc. In October 2015, the company announced a $45 million funding round led by Great Point Investors. As reported by the New York Times, Uptake is the third unicorn in Illinois, valued at over $1 billion.
Philanthropy and community interests
Keywell is the chairman and founder of Chicago Ideas Week, an annual event that is emerging as one of the major innovation and ideas conferences and platforms in the country. Chicago Ideas Week hosts nearly 200 speakers at 80+ events with global media coverage in partnership with TIME magazine.
Keywell is the chairman of the Future Founders Foundation, which runs the Future Founders and Connect to the Future programs. The programs are designed to teach and inspire high school students in entrepreneurship, and connect them with mentors for guidance and inspiration. The Future Founders and Connect to the Future programs provide real-world experiences and hands-on impact to encourage students to focus on the value of their education and expand their horizons.
He is the chairman of the Illinois Innovation Council, appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.
Keywell is a trustee of the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurship at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He is on the Advisory Board of the Directors College for Global Business at the University of Michigan Law School. He is on the Advisory Board of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Keywell is on the board of trustees of the Foundation of NorthShore University HealthSystem, a $1.5 billion healthcare organization. He has been a Special Advisor to the Redmoon Theater Company, a Chicago-based theater and public spectacle performance troupe.
Keywell is a participant of both the Renaissance Weekend and the TED Conference. He is a member of the Chicago chapter of the Young Presidents' Organization, and serves as chairman of the YPO Coaches Clinic, an international YPO event.
Teaching and writing
Keywell is currently an Adjunct Professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where he teaches a course on entrepreneurship and building technology-based businesses.
He is the author of Biz Dev 3.0: Changing Business as We Know It, published by ALM Publishing, and, with his daughter, the author of Isabelle Speaks Up: A Story of Possibilities.