What drives a veteran CTO to keep coming back to Startups? And why in Japanese Proptech?

Hello! From this week, we will be starting a new series posts where we introduce the employees at Open Room Inc. through interview forms. This week’s interview is with Jonathan Muller, Open Room Inc’s CTO. You can find out all about why he keeps coming back to startups despite of all he challenges and hardships and why a Japanese proptech startup. Please read more.

Name: Jonathan Muller

Title: CTO

Age: 30 years old

Nationality: Paris, France


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

I used to work as a web engineer at various startups in France. I even created a company with some friends in 2014, which focused on developing a CRM software for business side use. One of the most rewarding memories was seeing people use the software I made in action and seeing that it was actually useful. But to make that a reality, I’ve spent countless sleepless nights. It definitely took a toll on my physical and mental health, but it also helped me knowing my limits.

What made you decide to work in Japan?

I fell in love with Japanese tea, sencha, and I used to order a variety of flavours online when I lived in Paris. I wanted to try the authentic flavours in Japan, so I came to visit Tokyo when I was 28. When I arrived, I was disappointed to see that the focus was more on coffee, but during the trip, I became fascinated by Japan. I began to search for a job on Wantedly, and at the same time Toyo (CEO) was looking for a lead engineer. We met up and clicked. I pretty much decided to stay right away.

Working for a proptech startup

What is your view on the Japanese real estate industry?

I think it's very outdated. Although the real estate industry is very large and active, I think the transactions are at the expense of buyers and sellers who unknowingly and unnecessarily overpay. Most property search engines are not user-friendly, and most procedures are not digitised. It seems inefficient and old fashioned to me. I can’t see anybody benefiting if the industry doesn’t see a change.

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

There are countless qualities of a startup that I absolutely love. It’s pretty much the only place I can work for. Mainly because of the level of flexibility that I have as well as an opportunity to leverage my creativity. Compared to larger companies where you are restricted in your decision making, in a startup I’m able to build something I believe in, with a team that’s like family. One of the best parts is building your own vision from scratch. There's nothing that drives me more than being in an optimistic and challenging environment.

Working in Japan

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

The trains are nice and clean. I like how the culture is embedded in the business world. It’s different from France where everyone is so multicultural that the French culture is not very distinct anymore. I appreciate how everyone is so sincere and how even in such a big city there are shrines everywhere.

Working at Open Room Inc.

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

Toyo’s mindset is very similar to mine. From the time when I first had a conversation with him, we agreed on a lot of things from life values to the importance of our task at hand. I thought ‘with him, I can make my vision a reality’, so I didn’t hesitate when he asked me to join.

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

I want to give people back their own life. Most people’s lives in this capitalist economy are being taken away by corporations who prioritise short term gains at the expense of the wellbeing of their employees or customers. As a result, employees start developing a negative association that work is work and it’s synonymous with pain. There seems to be a trade-off between profits and employee wellbeing which I want to change. At Open Room Inc., we build our own culture where there is a balance between working on something you’re passionate about and still being connected to your own life. Everyone is working for their own happiness. And with our service, we are able to bring the same notion to the real estate industry. Open Room Inc. is where I am able to make my vision a reality.

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

The feeling when you walk into a market that needs change, and you are the change.

After experiencing 3 startups in France, In what ways is Open Room Inc. unique?

They all have things in common in that they all aim to disrupt their respective markets. However compared to the startups I’ve worked for, I believe in Open Room Inc. the most. Not only in our product, but in our team. I have never connected more with a team through our work more than anything else.

Working with the team

What do you strive for to create a positive work dynamic?

We always keep in mind to create an environment where all members can grow together. Everyone I work with is highly independent and motivated. There is no need for someone to crack down on someone, and everyone naturally drives and stimulates one another’s work ethic every day.

Closing questions

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

Find a place where you feel good. If you follow your heart and respect others, everything else will follow.

Thanks for tuning in! Come back next week to read about our Lead Desginer Lily Melnik.

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