How I Became A Founder:’s Ivan Lee

Frederick Daso
5 min readAug 24, 2020

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Lee serves as the Founder and CEO of Datasaur builds data labeling software for ML teams working on NLP. After graduating from Stanford with a Computer Science degree, he has spent his career working in the machine learning, search and gaming industries. Lee’s driven by building cohesive teams and crafting technological breakthroughs into meaningful user experiences.

Datasaur founder Ivan Lee.

Frederick Daso: When did you first gain interest in being a founder?

Ivan Lee: When I attended Stanford, I attended a few talks by startup founders and VCs. What surprised me most about these fireside chats was that these founders weren’t much older or much different from myself. They were other folks who liked to tinker and work on projects they enjoyed; when they wanted to pursue it full-time, they found support from the environment surrounding them. I was inspired by their stories and realized that if I ever wanted to pursue my ideas, there was an established ecosystem of other founders, mentors, and startup capital here in the Bay Area.

Daso: What were the essential experiences that helped you be in the position you are today?

Lee: I attended a relatively new and somewhat experimental high school. This meant that there were a few student clubs and associations. If we wanted to do something, we had to start it ourselves. Being forced to find the resources and people to build something you want early on in life was a crucial lesson in building my startups. Even though I was an introvert at the time, when I joined these groups, I found myself in leadership positions, which required more extroverted skills. I found myself adapting to fill the needs of my organizations. Over time, this helped build the confidence and leadership skills it took to recruit and motivate a team and utilize different skill sets to pursue a cause.

Daso: How did you prepare for yourself to become a founder?

Lee: I wish I had done more! There’s not much more reading or tutorial-watching you can do to prepare yourself for startup life. I made many, many mistakes along the way. I take the most painful mistakes and study them to see how I could have handled the situation…