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From New York to Tokyo: A 21-year-old Master in Computer Science loves Japan, learns something new everyday and is ready to disrupt Japan’s old real estate industry.

Hello! Thank you for tuning into our employee introduction series. Today’s post is about Rob Weiss, Open Room Inc.’s associate engineer. Keep reading to find out this new grad’s never ending desire to learn and the root of his love for software!

Name: Rob Weiss

Title: Associate Engineer

Age: 21 years old

Nationality: New York, USA


Background

What kind of work did you do before joining the firm?

I was an university student in New Jersey studying software engineering and computer science. Every since I was a kid I've been playing around with things laying around the house and loved creating and inventing stuff. That's why I always thought mechanical or aerospace engineering would be perfect for me. It was only in high school when I started doing some electrical engineering that I realised my interest in the field and ended up slowly transitioning into software.

What made you decide to work in Japan?

In my Sophomore year of university, I studied abroad in Tokyo for a year and really loved Japan. So the next summer, I came back and did an internship designing the backend API for a language learning mobile game. After that, I started looking for a job in Japan full time.

Working for a proptech startup

What is your view on the Japanese real estate industry?

From personal experience, finding an apartment is not easy anywhere, but especially difficult in Japan. The level of limitation in information disclosure and lack of transparency make it even more diffcult, and I know a lot of people who avoid moving because it’s such a painful and difficult process.

How come you chose to work for a startup? What is unique or special about it?

In university, I attended some information sessions for big companies, and I know many people who went to work for them, but personally, I wanted to do something with more responsibility. A place where you can actually learn something every day and feel like you’re having an impact on the company. I didn’t want to do meaningless work every day because when you’re doing something you love and care about, it makes work enjoyable. A startup ticks all of those boxes for me.

Working in Japan

What is it like working in Japan? How is it different from what you expected?

It’s not too different from what I expected. Our team is so international so the work environment is great, and I feel rooted here because I also have my friends and girlfriend living in Tokyo as well. Overall, living here is not too difficult, although, I do have to put in a little more effort for things like going to the bank. Living abroad, in general, is amazing because you get to experience so much that you wouldn't have normally. I never thought I’d eat sea urchin but here we are! It’s really exciting to live in a place with so much culture and nature because there is always something to do.

Working at Open Room Inc.

Why did you decide to work at Open Room Inc.?

When I was looking for job I studied many companies in Japan, and I noticed a lot of startups had websites that weren’t well put together, their information was out of date or they simply didn’t respond quickly. So the first thing I checked about Open Room Inc was the website, and it really stood out to me. The layout, the ease of use, images used and everything else met my criteria of how a website should be. I knew instantly that, if we met eye-to-eye, we would be a perfect match for each other.

What is your vision? How does it overlap with the company’s?

One of the reasons I love software so much is that it makes it easy to create something that benefits a lot of people. Open Room Inc is trying to disrupt the real estate industry in Japan, for not only the benefit of the brokers, but also everyone who will ever look for a place to live. We’re making something with a huge potential social impact out of nothing.

What is the most exciting thing about working at Open Room Inc.?

It’s amazing how I learn something new every day whether it’s about the technology I’m using or how to approach an issue differently. Sometimes, I would encounter a problem that I can’t solve in the moment, but I’d wake up the next morning with the solution and when I get a morning like that, I can’t wait to get back to the office and complete the puzzle! I love the creativity of it all.

Working with the team

What do you strive to create a positive work dynamic?

It’s really relaxed at our office. Everyone manages his/her own workflow and keeps each other in the loop. In such a small team of people, I feel a great level of responsibility in producing good quality products that everyone can be proud of, and that mentality and work attitude are something we all share in common.

What is it like working with such a diverse group of people?

It’s very interesting to see such different perspectives. Especially during lunch, I get to find out different opinions about the same topic or learn more about someone's background every day. It’s really exciting to see that we have such varying personalities but all have the same values when it comes to our work.

How does the Open Room team make you feel ‘at home’ when you’re living halfway around the world from your family?

There’s always a welcoming atmosphere in the team where I feel like, if I need something, I can always ask for it. Because I’m naturally a very independent person, I see my teammates as ‘friends’ who I get along with.

Closing questions

What is one thing you love about this company the most?

Open Room is an environment where I am able to learn and get smarter every day. The way we operate as a group is very unique and relaxed, and I never feel stressed. I think that’s really important to find that in your workplace.

What is one thing you love about our service/ product the most?

You know, one of my pet peeves is wanting to do something and not being able to do it right away. I sympathise with people who have to put up with that every day regardless of its context. That’s why what we’re building now is so great because it allows people to take action with house hunting right away, and there is a big social impact because it can significantly improve the way the industry currently works.

Do you have any message or career advice to someone who is reading this article?

Find a place where you can grow with your team and company. Keep learning and improving yourself as the company moves forward.


Thanks for tuning in! Next week, we will finally be interviewing Open Room Inc’s CEO, Toyohisa Tanuma. Come back to learn more about the company in next week’s 2-parter.

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