Mujin first customer, who was it?
“We didn’t have a product yet at that time, we didn’t even have a company name, and both Rosen and I still had our jobs. The salary was enough to cover our life, of course, but believed that we had to concentrate Mujin’s research and development to accelerate our dream with funding from outside. We established Mujin in 2011, 2-3 years after the Lehman Shock, and since most venture capitals had stopped their operation, there were not many places to go.”
It took almost one and a half years to acquire Mujin’s first customer
“We visited head offices of many companies having to do with the robotics industry, but back then it was difficult for 2 unknown, unaccomplished young men to see the top management, and even if we did, they paid no attention to us, sometimes even telling us that “i can hardly believe you young two guys can actually make robots completely teachless”.
Mujin founders decided to go to the USA during the Obon holiday and made appointments with managers and the presidents of Japanese major robot manufacturer’s US branch offices, who were much more open to listening about some interesting technology. Robotics is a field where growth happens only after doing a lot of investment, but American investors only want what they can sell quickly. Mujin founders wanted to make not trends or entertainment, but a new industry supporting society for the next 100 years.
The USA trip was very productive, Issei and Rosen got very good ideas from them and understood weak points and areas for improvement for their business, and went back to Japan. Some US branch presidents even made introductions to the top executives at their headquarters in Japan.
Never give up, never surrender
Issei and Rosen got a chance to show a demo to robot manufacturer executives from Denso Wave. Even though they sped up development, their demo just did not work. Explaining the situation, Issei and Rosen got a 2 weeks extension.
“I need just 20 minutes, engage them in small talk, buy me some time” Rosen begged Issei.
Issei was making a presentation about Mujin potentiality, talking a lot, and sometimes glanced in Rosen’s direction but Rosen did not appear to be ready…
Issei started preparing to apologize to the executives when Rosen pressed the start button. It was only one UI page with many buttons, Miraculously, it worked!
“From this experience, the culture of never giving up until the last moment took place,” Issei says about the future company’s culture.
|Mujin booth at one of the first expo|
Despite that, Rosen kept saying to Issei: “I think it was a very good meeting, I think my technology was recognized.”
Rosen was confident in his technical skills. Issei was also determined that once he made a decision he would see it till the end. “I was prepared to go to Hell and back with Rosen,” Issei reminds.
It was around that time when Rosen heard about UTEC (the University of Tokyo Edge Capital) and the founders went there to make a presentation. UTEC was overwhelmingly speedy compared to the other companies. It determined everything, including the due diligence, in a short time, where others would need at least a month to decide. It wasn’t that we wanted the money as soon as possible, but we felt that matching levels of speediness was important to work together