1:50 - From farm boy to computer geek
10:13 - Being greedy for positive feedback
16:56 - Ending up in a broken team
23:18 - Perseverance
25:05 - Getting close to burnout
Igor Susmelj is the co-founder of Lightly, where he helps companies improve machine learning models by curating vision data. He has previously worked at SIX Group and Unicorn Labs, and holds a master's in Electrical Engineering from ETH.
Igor grew up on a riding stable, where he spent much of his time helping out his parents. He had to fight tooth and nail for his first computer, and struggled with his family's expectations for his future career. It was at ETH that he first came into contact with the field of machine learning.
After finishing his master's, he co-founded Lightly (originally called Mirage/What To Label), which aimed to make the machine learning process for autonomously driving cars more efficient and human.
Several things went wrong at first:
- He mismanaged his team: Igor did not take care to discuss either the expectations or the roles of everyone in the team early on, and then when they finally did, it was extremely hard to make everyone happy.
- He became obsessed with the success of the company and neglected his interpersonal relationships. A loved one died during this period of Igor's life, and he feels he did not spend enough time with this person in their final days. Nowadays he calls his family every second day.
- He understood success as completely dependent on other people's perception of him and his team. He changed his business model too hastily based on external feedback.
There was even a time when, having run out of money, Igor found himself having to flip cars in order to support himself and his project. But thankfully, there was no difficulty too great for Igor to overcome, and nowadays Lightly is back on track and has in fact just been accepted to a the world-famous Y Combinator.
"I used to define success as what other people thought of me."
If you would like to listen to more fuck-up stories, check out our most recent episode with Cédric Waldburger.
Don’t forget to give us a follow on our Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin accounts, so you can always stay up to date with our latest initiatives. That way, there’s no excuse for missing out on live shows, weekly give-aways or founders dinners!