Mujin Story: Meet Mujin founders

One hour of stopped production line can lead to the loss of one hundred million yen and can hit not only the industry, but our daily life too. Currently, we all can see the panic in supermarkets where customers load toilet paper, hand sanitizer, canned goods and cup noodles into shopping carts.
Behind the scenes, logistics companies actually have problems trying to keep delivering products to support everybody’s life. E-commerce businesses have begun to develop new technologies and experimental supply chain models to increase package volume, expedite deliveries, and delight customers.
Significant labor shortage, aging Japanese (not only) population, heavy work at logistics sites and factories, bad working environment, is not a problem anymore when you implement robotics. And Mujin helps you to make it happen.
Let me introduce you to Mujin, an intelligent robotics controller maker company, which is changing our lives already. In order to better understand and see Mujin one should plunge into its history.
Please find another blog articles about Mujin, Inc.’s story here: Mujin Story

Meet Mujin founders

Everyone has a dream that involves becoming famous, marrying a celebrity, being the first one on Mars or winning a lottery. I would like to introduce you to a dream of a young and ambitious guy who met another great guy. When two independent, intelligent, and hard-working people come together, nothing can stop them from achieving their dream.
These two guys are Rosen Diankov and Issei Takino, who made their dream a reality. This article will be about Rosen, whose only passion is to increase worldwide quality of life by deploying as many automation systems as possible into the real world, and Issei, who is determined to leverage Mujin’s automation technology to fundamentally change manufacturing.
2012 year
Rosen studied computer science and artificial intelligence in high school. He previously worked at Microsoft, Intel Research and Willow Garage (a robotics startup). He graduated the best in his class at University of California, Berkeley, and then entered Carnegie Mellon University, which is most famous for robotics. He got a doctorate degree with the thesis “Automated Construction of Robotic Manipulation Programs” when he was 26 years old.

At Mujin office, 2012
Rosen didn’t want to stay inside researching labs forever, he has aspirations to share benefits of his research results and share with society about how automation will lead to a bright future. Rosen doesn’t want to use robot technology in the field of entertainment.
At Mujin office, 2020
So, why Japan? Rosen studied under Professor Kanade, who is an authority on robotics engineering, at Carnegie Mellon University, where Rosen met Japanese engineers who visited Kanade’s laboratory. Also, during his education at Berkeley, Rosen was amazed by Sony PlayStation’s highly sophisticated system configuration and parallel processing which prompted his interest in learning the secrets of such high technology. He started reading Japanese-language books at the university library and became fluent in Japanese language without any help.
According to Rosen, “For humanity to progress further, the most important subject is how to create “time” to address the problems and issues we will face from here on”. However, in order to live, people must engage in everyday activities such as shopping, commuting, and household chores, in which they spend most of their time. Rosen believes that these activities, while necessary, represent a time waste. On the other hand, if robot technology can be applied to create automated factories and manage routine tasks, we can redirect our limited time towards finding solutions for critical issues such as climate change and renewable energy (Recommended book for young people by Rosen).
In 2009, Rosen met a young Japanese man at the World Robotics Exhibition. It was his business partner Issei Takino, who now serves as Mujin’s CEO, and together they succeeded in setting up Mujin in July 2011.
Issei was born in 1984 in Osaka, Japan. “When I was in high school I was an intense swimmer, and I even competed in the Junior Olympics. Because my mother was an English teacher, I always thought I would enter an American University. I moved to the States in 2003, entered UCLA first, and then transferred to Soka University of America. I chose Chinese as my foreign language, and in my junior year I studied abroad at Shanghai University for 10 months before graduating,” recalls Issei.
When he was a student with a part time job at a credit card company, he got a bonus award for being rated the top salesman in Eastern Osaka from the very first month.

Before Mujin


Issei’s father was the founder/president of an IT company that went IPO in 2002. Issei mentioned: “He did not pamper me at all. He would always wear a T-shirt and tattered jeans, so I never really thought of relying on him in the first place. Unlike other international students, he did not even send me money for living expenses while I was studying in the USA. Enduring such difficult circumstances, I had to develop wisdom to survive. However, I learned most of what I know about sales and business after I started working”. During his study in the US, he was the number one waiter at a luxury Japanese restaurant. 
At IREX 2019
After graduating from university, he started his career at Iscar Inc., which boasts the world’s highest profits among manufacturing industries and is famous for being acquired by Warren Buffett. Issei received the Newcomer Award in his first year and became the No.1 salesman in his third. He left an excellent record and received various awards as a sales engineer proposing methods concerning production. Issei’s wide field of knowledge and realistic point of view from his experience of Japan’s strict production scene became a driving force for a huge breakthrough in the robot start-up industry, in which industrialization is said to be especially difficult. Issei won the 1st award in technical sales for proposing and building production methods.
Experience at competitive production sites in Japan has given Issei a wide range of knowledge, pragmatism and drive to make great strides in the robot venture industry, which is considered to be particularly difficult to commercialize.
Rosen, who had been immersed in research at university, felt that in order to apply his research results to contribute to society, he needed a capable and competent business partner to fill him in where he was lacking. He is a true believer of open-source and has founded and developed the widely used robot motion planning system called OpenRAVE, which comprises the core of the Mujin technology stack and is used by many robotics labs around the world.
“It wasn’t only his on-ground knowledge of the manufacturing industry, but I also sensed in him an ambition which wouldn’t be fulfilled by his current company. Originally a person who loves challenges, I had a notion that I would definitely end up working with him at some point,” reveals Rosen about his first impression of Issei.
At IREX 2009
Not everything went smoothly from the beginning. Issei had good on-ground knowledge of the manufacturing industry. However, he did not have the faintest idea if Rosen’s technology could actually benefit society, because there was no finished product, only ideas.
Source tv-tokyo
Despite multiple rejections, Rosen persistently contacted Issei time and time again. “He’s a super straightforward guy. He tried to convince me to do business with him, but I was just ignoring him. He would frequently send me long emails, but I was busy with my work at Iscar, I just replied with two sentences” recalled Issei. After 10 months of emails and phone calls, Issei agreed to meet Rosen at Osaka station café. Thus, moved by Rosen’s passion, Issei eventually succumbed.
“Tenacity is a key quality in business. Since he is such a persistent guy, even if he fails several times he will probably be willing to start over again. If I have to partner with someone it might as well be someone with this high level of energy. With this in mind I was determined to work together with him,” Issei explains.
In July 2011, Issei and Rosen established Mujin, Inc. together, with just 2 desks in a small garage.

To be continued..

Used sources: Asian Nikkei, techinasia

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