Member interview Vol. 4 “Towards a company where everyone is comfortable — WARPSPACE”

For the 4th member interview, we have Ido-san from the BizDev. What would you imagine from the words such as, start up or venture company?
Many would envision a bright and big company with large and successful fund raising. However, start-ups are by definition, a company. Which brings us to introduce today a very important yet unsung position of the company.

1. Please introduce yourself

I am a 24 year old female from Hyogo prefecture. I moved to Kanto to study in a law school, because I thought it would make my life better. I quit the school and stared working for some time, before getting into WARPSPACE in 2019. So who am I you say? well… I would say “an ordinary employee”.

- I wonder if a business development member of a space tech startup would be considered an ordinary employee…

Good point.
By the way, when Kunii-san (a BizDev member) joined the company in 2020, I remember getting excited, “Oh! Finally, someone around my age! “. We are the youngest among the full-time members.

- Being one of the youngest member, I suppose you are assigned a very important role in the company. Please tell me about it.

To put it simply, I do almost everything except for management, development, bookkeeping, and sorting, so I’m basically a “one-man general affairs department”. To begin with, we do not have divisions or departments, but rather BizDev (= Business Development), which is more of a broader and vague distinction. I’ve always had experience in administrative work, but this is the first time I’ve had such a high level of authority in a job.

- What made you start working at WARPSPACE in the first place?

I was introduced to the company by Kimura-san around February 2019. Mr. Kameda (the president at the time) in charge of all the development and administrative works, so it was already a very difficult situation. The company’s desire to find a trustworthy person who could be entrusted with the company’s management, and my timing of looking for something interesting to do coincided well. I started out as a part-time employee.

About a month later, the company asked me to become a full-time employee. I’d love to!

- In other words, I was suddenly in charge of the general affairs of a space tech company.

- Were you interested in space and space business?

Not at all. In fact, I have watched Star Wars, but I can’t remember what it is about. I felt a sense of romance, but that was enough for me to take the job. I was rather surprised to find out that space tech startups also had ordinary office work, which is not surprising, but I found it interesting.

- That’s true, it’s not an area that usually gets a lot of attention.

2. As surprising it may sound, I got in charge of a big event soon after I joined.

- Since joining the BizDev, how is your experience at the office?

The most important point is that it’s a very comfortable company to work for. Everyone has a flat relationship with each other. We usually have a great degree of freedom while doing any given task, that is why its’s easy to work here.

For example, in April 2019, right after I joined the company as a part-timer, we held a company-sponsored event called “WARP STATION” deep in the mountains of Chiba. From bus arrangements to venue setup and so on, nothing had been decided although the event was 2 months ahead. Tsunemachi-san was overdosing himself with enormous amount of tasks and that’s how I got my first load of tasks.

Image of WARP STATION held in Apr 2019.

I had signed up as an office worker, in real I was doing public relations. I was told that I would have to plan, arrange, and run all the events. “I can do such important and responsible tasks? I got a little excited.

- Actually, I also was there before I got involved with WARPSPACE yet! I had a lot of fun.

Actually, we had a near miss. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
The planning of this event itself was a lot of fun. I actually like planning and creating such events, and I’d be happy to be a part of any future events you plan.

- Of course!

3. “WARPSPACE” created by hand

- So, your work started with the unexpected event management. I heard that your presence is now an important key for the company.

Actually, when I first joined the company, there were no intact internal systems in place. We had work rules, but that was it. We didn’t have a system for actually running the company, so we spent a year gradually organizing everything, including payroll and labor management.

- That’s a very startup-ish story. Did you have the knowledge to start with? Or did you acquire it as you went along?

I would say both. I was so interested in the field that I wanted to study law to enrich my life. Thanks to that, I didn’t have that much trouble. Of course, there were many things that I didn’t understand, so I had to rely on labor consultants and other specialists to help me figure out what was best for me.

- This must have been…very difficult, wasn’t it?

It was very difficult. Since we had a small number of employees, we were able to succeed by repeatedly trying out and brushing up with a small team. First, we fix the most important components, and then we build on them with optional components. But there is a still long way to go.

However, I believe that the process of introducing a new system to the company every month, testing it, and creating a new system again is something that would never be possible without the cooperation of everyone.

I am aware of this, but I am very bad at speaking. I’m pretty good at communicating with my fingers, like writing on a computer, but I’m really bad at expressing my thoughts out loud. So I make documents as much as I can to convey my thoughts, and when people don’t do it, I spank them with messages.

When I think about it now, the most enjoyable part was building up the structure of the company.

- I don’t think it’s a job everyone can do.

And I think that’s especially true since I’m not just doing general affairs work, but also a lot of work as a BizDev. I think it’s because Right now I am able to carry out other tasks in parallel with internal operation of the company. I think it’s because I created the system that way, so my current task is to change the system such that it can be operated by other people.

- Thank you very much for supporting the company so far!

4. One-man operation, but not alone

Did you ever feel the burden of running the company’s internal system by yourself?

The presence of Tsunemachi-san and Azuma-san was very important for me. It’s scary when you’re on your own, isn’t it? I was still inexperienced in the workforce and had no clue about starting up a company or back-office department. I had some knowledge about the company’s structure, but it was not enough. These two people supported me a lot, giving me advice and guiding through the path. That’s why, although I was entrusted with the job, I didn’t have to take on too much responsibility on my own, and it was very easy to do.

The unique viewpoints of these two people have always been my home base. But secretly, I think they’re monsters.

- How do you maintain your mental health?

I’ve always been the type of person who tends to hold things in, so I consciously try to consult with people. I talk with Tsunemachi-san for an hour every month in the company’s “1-on-1” system to discuss various issues, and I also get help from other BizDev members and development members. I’m now in the phase where I’m trying to figure out how to properly and evenly distribute the tasks.

This is quite difficult, but there are almost no office workers in space tech, so I thought I’d have to ask.

I’m actually a solitude-oriented person who likes to be alone. In a positive sense, I like to be alone. When the number of people increases, I have no idea how to ask them for task distribution. One day I will no longer be the only person in general affairs, so I am learning how to manage people by watching Azuma-san, and other senior people.

- Has your interest in the space field changed while you have been working?

If you ask me whether my interest in space has increased or not, the answer is that it has not changed.

- That’s a surprising answer.

Of course, my knowledge about the industry has increased, but I don’t want to stay in the space industry forever. However, I have grown to love WARPSPACE. So, I am quite eager to help the company grow.

Aside from space. I’d like to show that you don’t have to be a space enthusiast to make it.

The company works on many things. For example, we had a crowdfunding campaign in 2020, and irregular events such as “WARP STATION”. I think it is important to create such a system and environment where people who are even slightly interested in WARPSPACE and the space field can easily participate.

In a sense, it is natural for people who love space to receive information about WARPSPACE, so of course, we will keep those people in mind, but I think it is necessary for the growth of WARPSPACE to attract more people who don’t have that much interest in space.

5. Which of the following “Compass of Behavior” matters to you the most?

I think all of them are important, but if I had to choose one, it would be “07. Love Family.

- You are the first person to choose this Compass!

To begin with, for me, work is a means to enrich my life. The most important thing for me is to be myself and my close family before my work. I try not to lose sight of that. Since I am employed, I don’t think I should put too much priority on my close ones and neglect my work, but I appreciate the fact that the people at WARPSPACE are very close with each other. It makes me happy and feel like I can do my best for WARPSPACE.

- It’s an equal and mutual relationship.

I like cats, much more than human beings. Of course, there aren’t many people who like cats more than people, so in a normal company, that wouldn’t be taken into consideration.

For example, if you say, “My cat is a little sick, so I’m taking a day off to take her to the hospital,” even if it’s a cat, they’ll say, “Please take her to the hospital”. The rule is to not put burden on people who live alone or have a family of their own, but if you subjectively feel that you are having a hard time, you can take a day off. If you subjectively feel that you are having a hard time, you can take a break. I think the company will be pretty supportive and would say, “Take care of yourself first.

- I also think this is important for companies in the future.

I think it will take some time for this to become mainstream in Japanese companies, though. Since I am in WARPSPACE, where this is becoming mainstream, I will protect it carefully.

The members of WARPSPACE now cover most of the family structures. There are people who live alone, people who live with their parents, people who live with their spouses, people who have children, people who live with their pets, people who come from abroad, and people who live in foreign countries. I think that was all of the possible patterns. WARPSPACE is thinking positively about how to make it easier for all of them to work. As a company, I think it’s pretty amazing that we have a system to make it easier to work as a start-up, and I hope that people who are interested in WARPSPACE will understand this.

Of course, since there are only a few members at the moment, the workload for each of us is overwhelmingly large. However, we have a system in place to make it easier for people to work, rather than having to work themselves to death because we are a startup company! I hope that you will knock the door of WARPSPACE.

We are startup company started as a project in University of Tsukuba, 2011. We will provide the optical telecommunication service with LEO Sat operator by 2023.