Mujin story #3: Mujin power is Mujin people

This story is about the first difficult years of Mujin,Inc. and it’s people.

Please find another blog articles about Mujin, Inc.’s story here: Mujin Story

With a perfect combination of technology and sales, Mujin is advancing at an exponential rate. Top talents from all over the world have gathered here, and needless to say, the Mujin official language is English (Diversity: everyone is unique). These geniuses are hard-working individuals with a passion for robotics.

First members

Rosen invited Huan Liu from MIT, who is currently the President of Mujin China, to visit Japan in 2012.  Huan spent a night at Rosen’s apartment, where they talked about intelligent robot development as a business in Japan. Huan felt that it’s exactly what he wants to do. The idea of applying the robot technology that Rosen was developing to practical use captured Huan’s heart. It was a very big life-changing decision. He quit his job and the graduate school. Huan married in July 2012, and in September 2012 he already worked at Mujin in Tokyo. His wife came to Japan much later.  Huan is the first member to join Mujin. At that point, Mujin starts hiring top talents from all around the globe.
Huan with his wife
There was no office, Rosen and Issei rented a tiny apartment, where first Mujin members had their corners and where they started Mujin. They visited potential customers, tried to find investors, and hired more people (Mujin Story: Meet Mujin founders). After Mujin got funding,  they were able to rent the first office (Mujin Story #2: first customer and first funding).
Mujin first office
Mujin first intern recalled: “The first office was a small garage with 2 entries, we got several robots so that to talk to a person from another side of the office, we should go out and come in from another side. My apartment, where I stayed during my internship, was right above the office on the 3rd floor. So, sometimes Rosen came to grab me to the office in the morning.” Now, this guy is a lead engineer at Mujin, who plays one of the major roles in the company.
Having fun
It was like a small Silicon Valley being built in downtown Bunkyo-ku, central Tokyo, where prestigious highly skilled, multinational engineers from Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, MIT, University of Paris, University of Tokyo, Peking University, Tsinghua University, and around the globe started gathering under the shared vision: “changing the world with the intelligentization of robots”. Mujin selects and hires people not based on how magnificent their track records are, but how determined they are to achieve the Mujin vision.

Geniuses want to work with geniuses

That’s how Mujin could get top talents. They can polish each other, and this environment itself is their irreplaceable incentive.
Mujin is not like a traditional company, it is more like a family since the beginning.
“My first week in Tokyo I stayed at Rosen’s place, where I had a great opportunity to have discussions about robotics. Rosen inspired me and afterward, I accepted a job offer from Mujin.” an engineer said.
Issei cooked for employees almost every day a healthy dinner since cooking is one of Issei’s hobbies, and they all enjoyed Tokyo life together if they have a minute. Sometimes, Mujin employees together with their families went to wineries, beer festivals, or just enjoyed yakiniku. The company is getting bigger, those traditions are still alive.
Mujin lunch by Issei

Running a startup is a challenge

Nowadays Mujin has a product, back to 2012 Mujin started as a company providing robot simulations and interface for trajectory computation and optimizations. For example, determine robot position, robot movement optimization, etc.
It is a very rare case when right after establishing a startup has a customer. Usually, startups are starting by doing more research, but it’s not about Mujin. “Every Monday we had to go to the customer site to upgrade their system. That means on Sunday night we didn’t sleep trying to complete features. Issei slept 1-2 hours because he should drive us in the morning” Mujin engineer recalled.
Onsite work
Free time was a rare case. For the first several years after Mujin established, engineers worked so hard that they didn’t even have time to take a breath. It was difficult to accomplish various tasks with only a small number of employees. They slept over at the factory for around two months, and times were working 16 hours a day was normal. Such experiences of overcoming difficult projects have become the driving force of Mujin.
Have a rest
“We had one guy, who visited us every Thursday night, just knocked on the door, and shared his idea. He wanted to convince us to create a picking system for him. At that time it took around 40 sec for a robot to pick an object. In the end, Mujin got famous, so that guy showed us a pathway. That’s how our first application was created”, an engineer said.

Mujin hero

In 2014, Mujin didn’t have a vision system yet. Rosen called a vision engineer with whom he worked on the same project at Carnegie Mellon. This guy helped remotely with a metal picking demo for an engineering & manufacturing solutions exhibition from Portugal. Two days before the exhibition, hardware arrived, the software was ready, everything was installed and it didn’t work…
“I was helping my sister with accounting when Rosen called me. I checked when the next flight was and held to the airport”, an engineer looked back.
With a time difference, he arrived in Tokyo on the morning of the 1st day of the exhibition.
“I had only 2 hours to find and fix the problem manually,” he said.
After this story, we call him a Mujin hero. Innovation is often made by a small number of people with extraordinary speed in the most efficient way.
DMS 2014
Mujin has excellent talents gathered from all over the world. Not only they are smart, but everyone is passionate at heart. Talented people with the same goal have gathered here and are taking a challenge in this difficult path with enthusiasm.

To be continued..

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