Daikin Employees at HACARUS: Reflections on the Start-up Trainee Program Vol.2

Daikin Employees At HACARUS: Reflections On The Start-up Trainee Program Vol.2

In this blog series we follow a conversation between HACARUS’ COO Takashi Someda & Mr. Fujimoto, Senior Engineer at Daikin Industries Technology Innovation Center, and Mr. Ishiba and Mr. Okamura, who were transferred to HACARUS, about Daikin’s experience working with HACARUS. 

In April 2021, HACARUS initiated a program to accept engineers from Daikin as start-up trainees, in which guest workers join HACARUS for a period of time, to get hands-on experience of working at a high growth startup. Following this, in April 2023, Daikin led HACARUS’ Series-C round.

Read vol.01 by clicking here

Learning AI development tasks within a community of data scientists motivates traineeship.

Takashi Someda: Thank you very much. Now, I would like to hear from the two individuals who have joined HACARUS for the Start-up Trainee Program. First, I would like Mr. Ishiba to introduce himself.

Daikin Industries Technology Innovation Center Mr. Ishiba

Mr. Ishiba: Hello! I’m Ishiba from Daikin. My major at university was mechanical engineering, and I was first exposed to informatics technology during my two-year internal training at DICT, which started when I joined the company in 2018.

During the first year, I studied AI/IoT through classroom training, and in the second year, after practical training in the business division through on-the-job training, I worked on the applicability verification of algorithms and the construction of imaging systems in the image inspection automation project.

Before training at HACARUS, I was mainly involved in the automation project for abnormal area detection in pathology images, focusing on tasks such as feature engineering, model validation, creating validation result reports, and reporting to clients in the field of data analysis.

Daikin Industries Technology Innovation Center, Mr. Okamura

Mr. Okamura: Hello! I’m Okamura from Daikin. I joined Daikin in 2018, the same year as Ishiba. In my first year, I focused on learning AI/IoT as part of the first batch of DICT. After that, for two years, I was involved in the construction and operation of research on GPU & supercomputers. Before the traineeship, as part of DX in the factory, I worked on introducing and implementing inspection applications to replace visual inspections.

At HACARUS, I was involved in the front-end development of AI visual inspection systems, ‘HACARUS Check’ and ‘HACARUS Check Basic.’ My responsibilities included extracting training data for model learning, creating datasets, and implementing functions such as creating and editing inspection masks within the app.

Takashi Someda: Thank you. It seems both of you joined at the same time. It must have been challenging to transfer to a startup company while being part of a large corporation. What were your expectations and motivations for transferring to HACARUS?

Mr. Ishiba: I had three main reasons. At the end of the training in 2020, there weren’t many data scientists within our company, and I was working on projects somewhat independently. I wanted to learn how data analysis tasks were performed in a team and gain insights into the proper approaches to data analysis.

Also, my tasks before the traineeship were internal projects, and I had some flexibility in delivering the results. I wanted to experience how we prepare deliverables when clients are external. Furthermore, I wanted to experience the difference in the pace of work between a venture and a large corporation, which is often talked about in general terms.

Mr. Okamura: In my case, I was told by colleagues and Ishiba, who had trained at HACARUS earlier, that my personality seemed suited for a startup company. I was curious about what working in a venture company really entailed. Also, the department I belong to at Daikin was newly established in 2020, and after graduating from DICT, the members in my department were working on various themes individually.

Through this transfer, I wanted to bring back the team development practices and the concept of standardization considering product handovers, which are being done at HACARUS.

Takashi Someda: So, you were attracted by the opportunity to experience working in a startup company while being employed at Daikin. We truly appreciate your proactive attitude and the desire for continuous improvement that led you to join us. Did you have any concerns before the transfer?

Mr. Ishiba: Since it was my first time transferring from Daikin to HACARUS, I had various worries. I was a beginner, and I didn’t know how I would be accepted by everyone at HACARUS, or if I could keep up with the work.

Mr. Okamura: I had an image of startup companies as being small teams doing highly specialized work. I was a bit concerned about whether the techniques I had developed on my own would be applicable.

The sense of urgency in a startup company – and the gap compared to a large corporation.

Takashi Someda: What was your experience like during your traineeship at our company? Do you have any memorable impressions?

Mr. Okamura: I felt the unique speed of a venture company right from the beginning of my time at HACARUS. Since I had mainly worked with people within Daikin, I was used to a flexible environment where I could work on tasks with some leeway. So, at the beginning of my traineeship, I thought, ‘They’re planning something quite ambitious.’ I had minimal experience in C# development and frontend development, so I keenly felt the technical gap with the team members around me.

There were also incredible individuals who joined the development and support midway, and it was a real challenge just to keep up with them. But as I continued running towards our goals, those goals started becoming a reality. It was impressive to see how the goals were realized and how they were continuously refined into better forms through PoC and discussions with clients. The team members provided thorough support regarding technical aspects.

Mr. Ishiba: I didn’t have experience in team-based data analysis, so I was desperate to cling to the people around me in the beginning. Fortunately, the project team members supported me, and I managed to catch up somehow. I was amazed by the diverse backgrounds of HACARUS technical members, and their knowledge in various areas.

Additionally, the data analysis and engineering skills of the project team members were very high. I had the impression that startup companies were often associated with high energy individuals, but at HACARUS, there were many calm and composed individuals. One memorable event for me was when our project received a contract extension from the client.

Communicating the analysis findings effectively to the client was challenging for me, given my lack of prior experience. Although I received sharp questions during the analysis result presentations, I felt a sense of accomplishment, thinking that I was somewhat appreciated for my efforts, from analysis to reporting.

Takashi Someda: Through your traineeship at our company, did you feel any gap between working in a large corporation and a venture company?

Mr. Ishiba: The scope of tasks I dealt with was significantly different. Startup companies have a flexible approach to value creation, so while data analysis was the core, the tasks spanned a broad area, including the peripheral aspects. In contrast, our focus at Daikin was on how to create value within the established business models, so the scope of tasks was narrower.

Mr. Okamura: It’s the proximity to members outside the development department and the management team. I even had the chance to have lunch with CEO Mr.Fujiwara at unexpected times. During the farewell party on my last day of transfer, a sales representative mentioned, “You helped implement additional features that we actively use” which made me realize how close the development and business departments were.

Also, the company was in the midst of rapid growth – the HACARUS Check development team doubled in size during my time. I truly witnessed the real process of a company growing substantially.

To be continued in Vol. 3, where the conversation covers the experiences gained by the transferred engineers, and the value it brings now that they are back at Daikin.

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