Laszlo Kishonti, 44
Founder and CEO, AImotive
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
AImotive is my first job closely related to the automotive industry. After spending more than 10 years in the mobile chip benchmarking business, where I witnessed how software was gaining more and more importance in the value chain, I realized the same thing would happen in automotive. Our aim from the beginning was to bring a scalable and affordable software solution to the self-driving market.
Languages: Hungarian, English
Education: Bachelor’s degree in economics, Budapest Business School, Hungary
Your greatest achievement?
To date, my career has been characterized by two well-timed moves into emerging markets from stagnating ones. I was working as chief investment officer at one of the largest asset management companies in Hungary and learned coding in my free time. Just before the financial crisis of 2008, I founded a chip benchmarking company so I left my finance job to get started in the emerging mobile chip sector. Likewise, when the mobile market started stagnating I founded AImotive (which was originally called AdasWorks) to develop artificial intelligence-based software for the rapidly growing self-driving market.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
I made a couple of bad investment decisions, which cost me significant amounts of money. Those decisions were made during very emotional times. This taught me that it is useless to stress out over things like this because I now know I can eventually climb out of the deepest of holes.
What is your current challenge at work?
The biggest challenge at any young company is to secure clients and investment to validate your technology and bring products to market. Convincing global automotive companies to work with a relatively small startup from Budapest is very challenging, but it is also very uplifting when we succeed. Because our access to resources is limited, we focused on generating revenue right from the start. That makes us different from many other startups in the market.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
How much automotive companies still underestimate the importance of software in their value chains and in the creation of their vehicles. It seems that industry players haven’t learned from what happened on the mobile phone market in the last 10 years.
2005-2015: Founder and CEO, Kishonti Informatics, Budapest
2000-2005: Chief investment officer, K&H Investment Fund Management, Budapest
1995-2000: Business journalist at various financial and business publications
What is the best advice you have ever received?
To take care of myself and get enough sleep.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
I would advise anyone entering the automotive sector to have an open mind and frequently challenge the old habits of the industry.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
This is the job for me.
What do you do to relax?
I love composing electronic music and am currently mastering my DJ skills with the help of a professional. I sometimes play my music at company parties.
What is your pet peeve?
I highly value open and honest communication, therefore, I really dislike it when the communication flow within a team is blocked on purpose and collaboration between teams is made difficult. During the three and a half years this company has been in existence I have had to fire two high-ranking executives because they tried to control information to boost their influence.
What was your first car?
A VW Polo.
An Audi A6.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
One that drives itself.