our team

founders Ryo Kawaguchi

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 Campbell

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.

relations Alisaun Fukugaki

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.

Shizuka Zucca Nagahama

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 Wada

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.

Megumi Koyama

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.

engineering Brian Schwind

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 Laitl

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 Mansanet

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.

administration Shiro Gonoo

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.

design Alvaro Arregui

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 Esposito

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, Spotify, 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.

construction Sumio Aizawa

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.

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work with us

Tokyo Software Engineer

What you’ll do

  • Develop computer vision, audio processing and network software for high-fidelity, life-scale telepresence installations
  • Research, test and assemble hardware components for the installations. Architect the instructions for mass-production
  • Create fast and scalable backend systems on a global infrastructure to serve users all over the world

What we're looking for

  • 3+ years of industry software development experience on Linux and general purpose programming languages such as C/C++, C#, Go, Rust, or Java
  • Experience developing real-time, low-latency systems and doing performance optimization, working with low-level systems such as OS kernel, drivers, CUDA, OpenGL, Vulkan and FPGA; or
  • Industry experience with mechanical or electrical engineering and doing rapid prototyping of hardware components
  • Working proficiency and communication skills in verbal and written English

Bonus points

  • Software development experience with Rust
  • Ph.D or industrial research experience on machine learning, DNN, or computer vision
  • Working proficiency and communication skills in verbal and written Japanese

Overseas and remote hires

Right now, we're looking for new hires to relocate to Tokyo or Hayama for at least one year, and then we can discuss a longer-term remote collaboration if that's of interest. It's really important at our current stage to be co-located with our team, with physical access to our development space and tonari installations (as much as we're working to improve the state of distributed work). Due to COVID-19 and its impacts on travel and immigration, please understand that the hiring process for overseas candidates may take much longer.

Tokyo Business Development / Sales

What you’ll do

  • Manage prospective customers through the sales funnel; consult qualified leads to formulate a project and offer; close deals and pass projects to our design and installation team
  • Run product demos; educate prospective customers about how tonari can be valued and successfully implemented to improve collaboration and closeness
  • Create and nurture new business opportunities and partnerships with office designers, integrators and installation vendors, and other sales and distribution partners
  • Travel to customers and partners; attend and participate in events; develop important relationships and grow tonari's community
  • Work with marketing to plan and execute effective lead generation activities; work with designers to improve online contents, presentations, and sales materials.
  • Forecast sales, production, and deliveries; anticipate resource needs by creating a sales forecast and sharing regular updates about current leads in pipeline
  • Manage and grow future sales operations; help build playbooks and define our sales motion

What we're looking for

  • 3-5 years experience in business development, full-cycle sales, or similar role
  • High degree of adaptability, flexibility, and autonomy
  • Natural partner-facing skills; easily build trust and inspire confidence
  • Exceptional communication skills in Japanese and English; personal, anticipatory, and responsive; analytical, clear, and concise
  • Comfortable working as part of a small and diverse team; values openness, accountability, teamwork, and servant leadership
  • Able to find creative solutions and bring structure into ambiguous areas of opportunity

Bonus points

  • Experience as an early sales hire or country manager at a fast-growing startup
  • Relevant experience with SaaS, Hardware-as-a-Service, or workplace consulting
  • Strong network of large enterprises or high growth startups that value people and build innovative work environments
  • Experience working with domestic Japanese and multinational companies; able to intuit work culture, communication, and power dynamics in various organizations
  • Passion to advance a more open, flexible, and equitable work culture in Japan; balances focused work, creative exploration, and meaningful time off
  • Flexibility to come into our Hayama office for demos and client interactions
Tokyo Manufacturing Lead

We’re looking for a full-time Manufacturing Lead who can join us to build and manage our manufacturing pipeline during our current batch production phase in 2022 up to later mass production. tonari is composed of various custom-built and off-the-shelf hardware components, as well as millwork and metalwork, to provide its structure and unique aesthetic.

tonari is a small startup with 15 talented individuals of varied backgrounds. We’d like to work with an agile and experienced expert who enjoys a startup environment, and who can bring a multi-year experience of designing and manufacturing hardware systems of similar complexity to further advance the product and streamline our manufacturing efficiency and throughput.

What you’ll do

  • Build and improve processes and manage the timeline and operation of our current small-scale batch production; find and manage physical location(s); hire and manage necessary vendors and part-time laborers; build and maintain assembly, QA, and packaging processes.
  • Manage a stable supply chain and production based on a good understanding of the hardware component market and tonari’s network, capital, and sales forecasts.
  • Develop and lead strategic initiatives for further scaling production at each stage of the company, from current batch production (dozens), to medium-scale (hundreds), and to mass production (thousands).
  • Actively participate in product design to improve the current product and ideate on future versions that significantly reduce the cost of components and raw materials and improve production efficiency and throughput.

What we're looking for

  • 3+ years of industry experience designing and manufacturing electronics, hardware systems, furniture, automotive, or appliances of similar scale and complexity.
  • Ability to work onsite at our development and manufacturing facilities around Tokyo, as well as visit other vendor locations occasionally as needed
  • Working proficiency and communication skills in written and verbal English and Japanese

Bonus points

  • Ability to develop relationships with overseas manufacturers to further streamline and reduce the cost of production.
  • Ability to work with tonari’s engineering team to improve the optics system, cabling system, custom-built PCBs etc; an engineering background is a great bonus :)
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