The User-First Culture at amptalk (Japanese)

The User-First Culture at amptalk (Japanese)
May 24th, 2023

Eight Values interviews Koichi Furukawa, a software developer at amptalk. We talk about the developer culture and engineering processes at amptalk.


After graduating from Sophia University in 2020 with a master's degree in science and engineering, he joined SoftBank Corp. Engaged in the development of online stores, etc., and has a wide range of experience from front-end to back-end, infrastructure such as AWS, and Scrum. In addition to his main business, he also has experience in developing an in-house limited book review service and deploying it company-wide. Joined amptalk in 2022.


Ryohei Watanabe: Hello everyone, I'm Ryohei Watanabe. Thank you for joining Eight Values. Today I'll be talking with Mr. Furukawa, who is a software engineer at amptalk. Thank you for being here, Mr. Furukawa.

Koichi Furukawa: Nice to meet you. Nice to meet you.

Ryohei Watanabe: Mr. Furukawa, you're part of amptalk as a software engineer. Could you tell us when you joined the company and why you chose to work at amptalk?

Koichi Furukawa: As for when, I joined amptalk in December 2022. The reason I joined, to put it simply in one word, is because I found the product appealing. I empathized with what the product wanted to achieve, and that's why I decided to join.

Ryohei Watanabe: What kind of job did you do before amptalk, Mr. Furukawa?

Koichi Furukawa: Before amptalk, I was a software engineer at a telecommunications company.

Ryohei Watanabe: Did you do the same type of web-related job at your previous company?

Koichi Furukawa: Yes, I did a similar job at my previous company. I mainly worked on the front-end, a little more in the front-end area. I used technologies like AWS in the infrastructure side, developing online shops for the front-end and the back-end for the front-end.

Ryohei Watanabe: That sounds interesting. Was your previous job at a large company?

Koichi Furukawa: Yes, in my previous job I worked for a large company, but the development team was small. We were actually doing development using Scrum.

Ryohei Watanabe: I think it's a common story that you work for a large company and then you want to join a startup. I assume there is a sense of attraction. Before joining, what was your impression of startups? Any concerns?

Koichi Furukawa: Rather than concerns, my impression was that every company has momentum and it seemed very exciting and fun. I felt that for all startups.

Ryohei Watanabe: I'd like to talk about amptalk itself. I think you said you were interested in the product, what did you like about it? What caught your interest?

Koichi Furukawa: I don't have sales experience myself, but the amptalk product is a product for salespeople. I have acquaintances and friends who are salespeople, and even my wife is in sales. When I hear their stories, I think they are doing sales in an old-fashioned way. I've felt for a long time that with today's technology and various SaaS products, they could do much better. Why are they doing it like this? When I looked at the amptalk product, I felt that it could provide great value to people who are doing sales in an old-fashioned way. That's why I liked amptalk.

Ryohei Watanabe: I suppose there was a process for joining, like interviews. Could you tell us a little bit about the process at amptalk?

Koichi Furukawa: My process was a little different from others. That's because I used to work with Mr. Suzuki, the CTO, in the same office, on the same team. So I went to visit because I was interested, and I liked the product and the technology stack was similar to what I was already using. I went to visit the company several times, talked to the engineers, the sales team, and said I wanted to join. I didn't really do much technical interviewing.

Ryohei Watanabe: So, it was a casual feeling of wanting to work here. I suppose having worked with Mr. Keita, the CTO, you already understood the technical landscape. Could you tell us a little bit about what you do at amptalk?

Koichi Furukawa: I joined in December 2022 and it's been a little over two months. I'm doing a wide range from front end to back end, database to infrastructure. I just finished a large project, introducing full text search, using Elasticsearch. We are fully adopting AWS, so we used Amazon Open Search Service. I set up the infrastructure with CloudFormation, migrated the data to Open Search, built a system to take data in real time, built APIs on the backend to retrieve information stored in Open Search according to user search, return it to the user, and also to ensure consistency of data between the database and Open Search.

Ryohei Watanabe: You've been working on it for about a month and a half. That's a really challenging feature. You've covered a wide range from front to back, AWS, Elasticsearch, or Open Search as it's also called. You've done all the technical aspects of the feature from start to finish. What did you find interesting about this feature?

Koichi Furukawa: I think the mindset of considering the user from the point of deciding on the backlog and going forward with it is connected to the culture of our team. For instance, when deciding which features the Product Owner should prioritize for the backlog, we would bring in not only engineers and designers but also members of the sales team to conduct event storming. This allows us to understand the customer's actions and the events that occur, using the strategic approach of Domain-Driven Design (DDD) event storming.

Ryohei Watanabe: Yes, I agree with you. When you explain this, it becomes a rather weather-like conversation in our daily life as software engineers. I'm not sure if I was able to express this correctly in Japanese, but what would your day look like?

Koichi Furukawa: On regular days, we work from the office for two days a week. While each of us is developing different functions, if someone gets lost, they might say, "Can I interrupt you for a moment?" This can happen whether we are in the office or working online. On Slack, we can start a huddle and say, "Can we huddle for a moment?" This way, we can have a discussion anytime. So, in our daily development, we often hold huddles to communicate immediately when we get lost.

Ryohei Watanabe: Do you have any concerns about interrupting Kaito-san or Shunji-san at amptalk? Many other companies also have this issue, but not too many of them actually do.

Koichi Furukawa: Personally, I don't worry about it too much, and we've created an atmosphere within the company where people aren't made to feel conscious of it. So, I don't really worry about whether I'm bothering others or not. From amptalk's point of view, why do you think they hired me?

Ryohei Watanabe: I was going to ask you the same thing.

Koichi Furukawa: One of my assumptions is that when I was developing amptalk, I was working with Suzuki-san, the former CTO of my previous job. We matched in terms of technology, but more than that, the fact that there was no mismatch in terms of personality or character was a great relief for the hiring side. I think that was one of the big reasons. Another one is my interest in the amptalk product and what I wanted to achieve with it. I think that was bigger than the technology aspect.

Koichi Furukawa: Although I'm not yet in the position to hire people, if I were, I think the most important thing is whether they resonate with the product. Moreover, if I were to hire engineers, I'd want to know whether they are the type who would actively research and implement solutions when they encounter something they don't understand. Or if they can share what they've learned after they investigate unknown issues. Even if the technology or framework differs in the future, these are trivial issues. The main criterion is whether they have the ability to push forward and whether I'd want to work with this person.

Ryohei Watanabe: The software engineers at amptalk are quite international. Koichi, do you work mainly in Japanese or are you okay with English?

Koichi Furukawa: Joining the engineering team at amptalk may raise the bar for those who want to join if they don't speak English. However, being able to speak English is very beneficial for the team. Our engineering team is diverse and has a high proportion of non-Japanese members, so speaking English is a great asset. But that doesn't mean that people who can't speak English are no good. I'm not very good at English myself. For those who want to improve their English skills, I think amptalk provides a very good environment.

Ryohei Watanabe: Conversely, is it easy for people who can speak English but not Japanese to join amptalk?

Koichi Furukawa: I think it's quite easy to join. As I said before, we have many non-Japanese members who mainly speak English, especially in the engineering team. So, I don't think that's a problem at all.

Ryohei Watanabe: What are the attractions of working at amptalk, other than the salary? What can you learn, what kind of team is it, and what other aspects do you find attractive? What is the main attraction of working at amptalk?

Koichi Furukawa: The appeal of working at amptalk, I believe, lies in being able to respond in real-time to challenges that arise as the product grows. For instance, as our user numbers rapidly increase and the volume of data we handle grows, the issues faced by a growing company are different, and being able to tackle them head-on is one significant allure. Another aspect is more technical. Many start-ups aim to quickly release features, often compromising quality to ensure the survival of the company. However, at amptalk, while value-based delivery is our top priority, this does not mean that we are always in a rush to deliver fast. We pay close attention to quality and strive to do our best. When I joined amptalk, I appreciated how the code was written and did not feel the need to rewrite everything. The coding practices were good, and the foundation was set for us to continually improve and grow the code base as the number of users increased and new approaches were introduced. I think having a team that upholds these values is one of the most appealing aspects of being an engineer at amptalk.

Ryohei Watanabe: From your description, it seems the code base is clean. Is that actually the case?

Koichi Furukawa: Yes, our code base is quite clean. For instance, in backend development, we adhere to Domain-Driven Design (DDD) tactical patterns, which helps maintain a clean code base.

Ryohei Watanabe: I remember discussing DDD every week when I was working with Shunji, so it sounds about right. I assume many potential candidates are considering applying. What kind of applicant do you think would be a good fit for amptalk? In your opinion, what type of applicant would be happier working here?

Koichi Furukawa: The type of person I would want to work with is someone who is deeply interested in the business and has a strong technical curiosity. I would want to work with someone who isn't afraid to change the code or try out new techniques when they are intrigued – someone who takes action.

Ryohei Watanabe: On the other hand, there might be someone who is considering joining ArmTalk. What type of person do you think might not be happy if they join? In other words, is there a type of person who might not fit into the culture here?

Koichi Furukawa: Indeed, there are people who might not be happy working at amptalk. For example, someone who sees a problem with the product and immediately concludes it's not good may not fit well here. People who merely criticize without proposing improvements or suggesting alternatives might find it challenging to adapt to amptalk's culture. I believe people who not only critique but also propose solutions and improvements would be a good fit, especially considering our start-up environment.

Ryohei Watanabe: Thank you. Lastly, based on your experience with amptalk, are there any key lessons or advice you could share for someone who has never worked as an engineering team before?

Koichi Furukawa: Software development indeed involves several essential principles, including design. While learning new technologies is important, it's also crucial to enhance the maintainability and scalability of your code.

Ryohei Watanabe: Like studying DDD?

Koichi Furukawa: Yes, studying something like Domain-Driven Design could be beneficial.

Ryohei Watanabe: Sorry for interrupting you.

Koichi Furukawa: No problem at all. Thank you, Mr. Watanabe. It was a pleasure.

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