Ryo is co-founder and CTO at tonari, leading software and hardware engineering, prototyping, design, manufacturing, and production. He previously worked at Google Japan for 6 years as a Staff Engineer and Technical Lead for Google Maps, where he managed large-scale engineering efforts that impacted hundreds of millions users, ranging from semantic analysis to restaurant search. He also led the early engineering team at Infostellar, and co-founded Straylight with Taj and Alisaun.
Taj is co-founder and CEO of tonari. He leads tonari’s product, roadmap and vision to align a superb international team of creatives, engineers, and operators. He previously worked at Google from 2007 to 2015, where as a Product Manager he co-led the design and development of Google Maps, along with numerous other projects. In 2016, he also co-founded Straylight, a Tokyo-based collective of makers pushing the boundaries of technology, art, and design.
Alisaun is a founding member of tonari and a nimble operator, overseeing various customer relations, research, and business development efforts. She is also community builder and co-founder of Straylight, a Tokyo-based makers collective, and もしも, a Hayama-based co-op and event space. Born and raised in Tokyo, she flits between being Japanese and American (whenever it's convenient). She led past lives as an equity broker and techno party organizer, and is now exploring and building a new life and community outside of the city.
Zucca is a founding member of tonari, and leads creative marketing, business development, community, and experiential design. She is a multi-lingual, globally minded creative director with 10 years of professional experience in the TV and music industry as a director, producer and business development executive. She has worked on a wide range of content including educational programs, animation, documentaries, music and fashion shows, and digital content involving motion capture, holograms and mobile applications. She's passionate about cultural projects, education and city design which combine music, art and technology.
Gaku leads many of the heavy operations at tonari, across manufacturing and installations to enterprise sales and business development. Previously, he was at Mitsui & Co. from 2008, where he engaged in trading with customers all over the world, including a stint in Dubai. He then landed at Moon Creative Lab’s Palo Alto office to design incubation programs that help entrepreneurs with business and product development. Gaku loves watching the NBA, he’s a sneakerhead, and he is recently exploring the world of homemade bacon.
Megu runs customer success at tonari, helping define and expand tonari’s value through consulting, research, and onboarding programs. She has over 10 years of experience working as a service designer, UX designer, and design researcher for IT, finance, consulting, and non-profits. Outside of tonari, she works as a facilitator at NPO PIECES, building a civic engagement program to prevent child isolation. Much of Megu’s practice is centered on aspects of design, technology and social impact — and exploring how technology can be used for inclusive community building.
Brian is a programmer, hacker, and hobbyist who moves seamlessly between the worlds of software and hardware. In his own words: “Software is always fun to write, but sometimes you just want to hold something you can give to other people and say I made that.” He brings extensive experience in Rust (tonari’s language of choice), and a can-do attitude and ability to make anything happen.
Matěj is a seasoned software engineer with a passion for open-source. His personal mission is to fight excess complexity on all levels: from software architecture to interpersonal relations. To achieve this, Matěj likes to combine hard skills with candid collaboration, giving and carefully listening to feedback.
Pablo is an electronics engineer turned bare-metal software developer, ethical hacker, and Rust addict. He brings experience from the medical and aerospace industries, where a misplaced bit can send things flying the wrong way. He enjoys writing, transforming coffee into code, collecting hobbies, and learning from everyone and everything around him.
Jen is a generalist software engineer who is easily excited by any hard problem. His nickname, "Jen Tak", translates to "just because". He enjoys exercising his silly ideas which are mostly a waste of time but sometimes something brilliant comes out. Perfectionism is his biggest strength and enemy. Away from the keyboard he likes to keep his heart-rate high with running, cycling, paragliding and climbing.
Shiro heads business administration, finance, and HR operations at tonari, and is a founding member. A serial entrepreneur, he started his first company after graduation, which he later used to develop mobile applications as a product manager for various clients in Japan. In 2014, he co-founded a startup focused on retail apparel in South East Asia, where he worked as COO and managed finance, development, and marketing for their physical and online stores.
Alvaro has led brand and product design at tonari since our earliest days in 2017. He is also the founder of Nuevo.Tokyo, where he and his team use design processes to help brands, including Sony and Nissan, to drive the vision of new products to come. Working as a designer since 2001, Alvaro was previously Lead Designer at ustwo (Monument Valley game), and has vast experience in remote and flexible working environments, collaborating with the best teams and brands, from London, NYC to Taipei to Sweden to Tokyo.
Adam contributes to space, product, and experience design at tonari, while also running his own design firm, Espo Atelier. Previously working at Gensler from 2006-2019, focusing on workplace and education projects, as well as hospitality, product and retail; and in 2014, he moved to Tokyo and became lead designer for large international projects such as Twitter, Google, Facebook and TikTok across Japan and Asia. Understanding both local and global cultures has been the foundation for many of Adam’s projects, and allows him to explore the future of work as technology and environments change.
Sumio is a master crafter and builder, and lends his expertise to tonari across prototyping, design, production, and installation. He is also the founder of SUMAR WORKS, a construction and design company specializing in commercial architecture. He has over 26 years of experience in design and crafts ranging from metal and woodwork to apparel and jewelry design. Sumio also owns and operates his own furniture studio in Koenji, Tokyo.
work with us
Right now, we're looking for new engineering hires to relocate to Tokyo, Hayama, or Prague for a period of 3~12 months, and then we can discuss longer-term remote collaboration if that's of interest. As much as we're working to improve the state of remote work, it's really important at our current stage for new hires to be co-located with our team, with physical access to our development spaces and tonari hardware installations.