Lightly was founded as a spinoff from the ETH Zurich and the University of St Gallen by co-founders who built a wealth of experience in autonomous driving and research on computer vision and deep learning. With their startup (former WhatToLabel), the team had the mission to help engineers and companies to automate the data preparation process for machine learning applications – this process is complex and strenuous.
Most companies that use AI need to label data. However, due to the enormous amount of data produced in one day, a lot of data that could be valuable remains unlabelled. Therefore, choosing what data to label and put into a machine learning model should be done cautiously. Lightly’s open-source enabled data platform uses self-learning algorithms that tell data teams which 1% of their data is the most valuable while improving their AI model 20% and saving up to 90% costs.
Since the go-live at the end of 2020, the company has attracted over 400 cloud users and some Fortune 500 companies and startups in autonomous driving, robotics, and video analytics. Customers mainly originate from the US. Moreover, Lightly has made part of their technology open-source. The open-source framework is used by industry experts and research labs at some of the best universities.
Y-Combinator invests in Lightly
Revenues also accelerate fast, currently growing at 20% monthly. The financial resources add to funds (CHF1 million) obtained in a pre-seed round and the USD 125’000 received from the Silicon Valley-based accelerator Y-Combinator (YC) as part of its offering to startups selected to join the YC program. Since 2005, YC has invested in nearly 3,000 companies, including Airbnb, DoorDash, Stripe, Instacart, Dropbox, and Coinbase.
Recognition from Facebook’s industry expert
Lightly’s framework for self-learning has also become the most popular tool in its field—just a few months since its release, the platform accumulated over 1000 stars on Github. Also, industry experts like Jerome Pesenti, Head of Facebook AI, complimented the startup on Twitter. “The rating and recognition demonstrate that we have a community that trusts us; this is important to us,” says Matthias Heller, co-founder of Lightly.
For the next steps, Lightly will close its seed round and continue improving the core product.
Photo L-R: Lightly Co-founders, Matthias Heller and Igor Susmelj