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CEO and Founder of Hacarus, Kenshin Fujiwara on Why Invest in AI

Hacarus, a Kyoto AI startup that employs people from remote areas, has members from the Philippines, Sendai, and Central Kyoto. Within Hacarus, we have three employees who all formerly served as Chief Technology Officers (CTO).

Why did former CTOs decide to launch Hacarus? Why did they take part in this planning?

In this final interview, I will be introducing Hacarus’ very own CEO, Kenshin!

▲日本語記事はこちら。


Kenshin's experience with development all began with the PlayStation. With his sights set on starting his own company within three years, Kenshin created Hacarus.

Tomomi: I’m looking forward to this interview with you! So Kenshin-san, until now you’ve had much experience with venture companies and going abroad. What was your first job like?

Mr. Fujiwara: Well, I learned computer science at Los Angeles. After graduating, I worked at Sony Computer Entertainment. I was assigned to the PlayStation development department.

Tomomi: Wow, Playstation development at Sony. That’s like the cherry on top of a sundae, the best part! Along with graduating high school and going abroad, you ended up coming back to Japan just in time for job hunting. It’s a bit unexpected! Why did you choose to come back to Japan?

Mr. Fujiwara: Truthfully, I wanted to start a company abroad instead. Starting a company as your career journey is considered accomplished. It’s just that for a Japanese to start a company abroad, the hurdles were high. I decided to come back to Japan first and instead, understand the structure of a company. I got accepted into a large company afterwards. From the start, I was focused on making my own company and decided to make that my goal while at Sony Computer Entertainment. During that time, I would frequently go to different departments and absorb as much as I could learn for 3 years.

Tomomi: And after that, did you start your company right away?

Mr. Fujiwara: Not yet. At first, I joined a Israeli military-affiliated venture company and for 1 year, I went back and forth between Japan and Israel. That company was developing simulation technology of a helicopter where I had the mission to bring that to Japan for sales. Eventually I left that venture and finally came to make my own company. I was still 26 years old that time. Here, I held the title of CTO.

At Kenshin’s first business, he was the CTO.
As CTO, he “uninstalled IDE”.

Tomomi: Wow. You became a CTO at such a young age. It must have been really tough. What was that like for you?

Kenshin: A newly grad, a creative designer, and I, the CTO, worked together. I worked while asking for outsourcing, not just in development but within the company itself. Since there are only three people, it was more like I was a manager even if I was called a CTO.


An event on UNPRECEDENTED INNOVATION for HEALTHCARE in Japan


Tomomi: What is IDE uninstall?

Kenshin: IDE is abbreviated as Integrated Development Environment. This is what engineers use for development. When I became CTO, I uninstalled IDE. “Uninstall IDE”, in other words, means to put away the development environment.

Tomomi: Putting away with the development environment…even as CTO? Does that mean allowing someone to do the development as you focus on your own things? What was your focus centered on at this time?

Kenshin: That’s right. Basically, I tried not to do anything that a CTO was good at- which meant no writing, looking at, or reviewing code. Nevertheless, there were many scenes that were inevitable due to urgent matters, so every time I was thinking “this is the last time” each time I had to respond to CTO duties.

For that part, I hired an engineer, created a structured, offshore development team, participated in business discussions with customers as a required hearing, apologized in incidence of trouble. Because I was the CTO, I wanted to focus on providing value in our work.

Tomomi: Most people, even if they think they want to do something, they end up not doing it. You talked about putting away the things you’re good at- but were there times your feelings got in the way, where you couldn’t follow up? What was convictions were responsible?

Kenshin: Doing a job one position lower is not something a CTO should do. If that isn’t the case, from the start, every employee will end up working one position lower and continue that way- which means the company would not grow. If the CTO refrains from laying a hand on development work, members will gradually level up to higher value work and raise their status.

Conversely, if the CTO had been developing for a long time, I think that would be a bottleneck and the management will face a slump in no time. I think that companies who have CTOs that write, look at, or review code are companies that won’t grow.

Tomomi: I see! And that is where the company culture of Hacarus must have came from. It was a very intimate talk that we had about your first company. Hacarus is now your fourth company. What was the company doing in between?

The first company I started was a digital signage company. Because it was right around the time rich content was a fad, we attempted to sell signage and targeted pachinko slots along the national highway.

After that, the second company I started up was a video sharing website. The third company was a system to improve efficiency of operating a co-working space, starting from the product development at Startup Weekend Kyoto. The business was sold to a company in New York and at that moment, I’d decided that I’d launch Hacarus.

Tomomi: I think Hacarus really differs in terms of industry, so I’m keen to find out why did you decide to launch Hacarus in that field, and what was your motivation for that?

Kenshin: My motivation came from family. My wife was working at a cooking class and naturally, we frequently came to the discussion of health, diseases, and nutrition. My wife proposed to me to consume foods with low sugar content with the purpose of improving my health. My result was an immediate change in physical figure from lower consumption of sugary foods. However, calculating nutritional content is a hurdle for any household. And from there, I thought up of developing a product that would weigh a food’s nutritional content just via kitchen scale. For my fourth startup company, this was my challenge.

Through constant change in the market, Kenshin made a second change in the course of his business. However, since establishing startup, the idea of using technology to make people all over the world, healthy, had remained unchanged.


Tomomi: From the time you had established your business, I think many things have changed you to bring you here today. What were those circumstances like?

Kenshin: From establishment, we developed healthcare applications along with the development of the kitchen scale. I used AI technology for that application. While conversing with the client, I believed that Hacarus’ technology has value which brings me to my present business.

I was engaged in sales activities when developing services for data analysis. It was great because I got to listen to a customer’s reaction to my talk and from there, I got much more confidence.

Tomomi: Even after the project itself has changed in its course, the principles of health stay unchanged in the company, and initiatives such as setting up the CHO position is something us employees are greatly thankful for.

Kenshin: The foundation of our business began with the healthcare field and our current clients are also medical and drug discovery companies. Our services have a lot to do with people’s health. Thus, if we ourselves are not in good health, we would be unconvincing as a health company. And that’s why we seriously and actively pursue a healthier lifestyle.

Tomomi: Lastly, do you have any message you'd like to convey to Hacarus members?

Kenshin: I talked a lot about my time as CTO, but I also want to say that if you are joining Hacarus that you’ll be doing work a level higher than your present work. As we use the sparse modeling technology, medical care, drug discovery, as well as other fields, to contribute to the people throughout the world. Let’s work together!

I’ve introduced 2 CTO's in the past two articles:
Hacarus CTO Someda's Talks About Why He Invests in AI
From Construction Sites to Computers, CDO Kitora Explains his Reasoning Behind Choosing Hacarus

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