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Brad Keywell, CEO, Uptake Technologies, Inc.

2019 award winner and 2022 judge

*Information correct as of June 2019.

A serial entrepreneur at heart, Brad Keywell says he has always been “a starter, rather than a joiner.” After successfully founding six companies, including Groupon, Brad was ready for his next venture. In 2014, he launched Uptake Technologies. Within four years, Brad had grown the predictive analytics software provider to become the fastest startup to reach a US$2b valuation.

The idea for the company came about when Brad went to pick up his daughter from the airport, only to find the flight delayed because the airline didn’t have the right part at the right time. With Brad’s background in technology, he believed this was a problem that could be easily resolved and so set about finding a solution.

Uptake’s technology enables its customers to know when a piece of equipment is not performing optimally or about to break down. It analyzes data from sensors, fault codes, and work orders from industrial machinery and equipment and then uses data-science models to predict failures before they occur. The software can save companies millions of dollars and countless hours by enabling them to look after their machinery better and better plan maintenance activities. Brad adds, “It helps companies reach new levels of productivity, reliability, and safety.”

The company is also using its platform to solve social issues. For example, on the Nepal border, organizations are using Uptake’s data analytics to recognize human-trafficking patterns and intervene earlier.

Uptake has earned its position as a CNBC Disruptor not only for its predictive analysis but also for how the platform refines the insights it delivers over time, comparing its recommendations against the actions field technicians perform and then self-correcting. In 2019, Forbes ranked Uptake number three on its inaugural AI 50 list of the most promising artificial intelligence companies in the US. Uptake has also been named a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum.

Brad is the founder of Chicago Ideas Week, which has grown into one of the largest ideas gatherings in the world. He is the founder of Future Founders, a nonprofit providing entrepreneurial education and inspiration to inner-city youth. Brad created and is Curator of the wndr museum, presenting emerging interactive art alongside works by iconic contemporary masters. He also is an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago.

Brad and his wife, Kim, created the Keywell Foundation to support disruptive social entrepreneurs, and they signed The Giving Pledge in 2016, committing the majority of their wealth to philanthropy and giving back.