Working as a Software Engineer for Japanese Startup Ubie

The Japanese Startup Scene

What is your image of working as a Software Engineer for a Japanese company? The image of Software Engineers in Japan was pretty bad, or if you are looking at the wrong companies, it is still pretty bad today. Software Engineering is associated with low pay, lots of overwork and also with ridiculously strict hierarchies. Some horror stories that you might have heard are that you are not allowed to go home before your supervisor has left the office or even that you literally work yourself to death (Karoshi). Companies with especially bad conditions are called “Black Companies”. Luckily, I have never encountered such extreme examples and I truly hope it’s just rare exceptions rather than the norm.

About Ubie

Founded by a doctor and an engineer, Ubie aims to have a great impact in the medical sector by utilizing AI technology. The heart of Ubie is a suggestion engine that guesses your medical condition based on a set of questions about your symptoms. These questions are crafted and supervised by real doctors. The AI will also adjust the question strategy based on the previous answers in order to make a better guess. Collecting the answers of patients for these questions is usually conducted in the waiting room of a hospital or clinic. The feedback from patients and AI is then sent directly into the doctor’s office. Furthermore, countless other work efficiency tools have been added around that process such as OCR scanning of medicine prescription records or triage functionality. A consumer facing service has also been launched last year which is gaining popularity as well.

The founders of Ubie

Engineering Culture at Ubie

With one of the founders being an engineer and a high percentage of engineers in general, Ubie has embedded a lot of engineering philosophy into its core values. The catchphrase “Hello, Healthy World” which is describing our vision to provide great health care and medical guidance for everyone utilizes the famous “Hello World!” phrase from programming. With many engineering concepts being prevalent, interesting things start to happen. For example, doctors that are working at Ubie start to learn SQL and are commenting on each other’s PRs in GitHub. (Our in-house developed medical database is managed by a Git repository)

Engineers at Ubie - you can find images like this in random Slack channels (don’t ask me about context)

Management Culture at Ubie

One unique aspect of Ubie is that there are no pure management positions. Even though we now have over 100 permanent employees. This raises a couple of questions, for example of how to keep things in order or how to evaluate the work of employees.

Future Goals and Global team

Ubie is gaining strong momentum in Japan, but that is no reason to not reach out a little bit further. The concept of Ubie could benefit people everywhere in the world. For this purpose the “global team” has been established. We have entered the Singapore market to conduct the Proof of Concept of our product in English language. If successful, many other markets will open up, although competition is expected to be fierce. Other players such as Babylon or AdaHealth are already in the field.

Final Comment

Whatever reason brought you to this article, I hope this gave a quick impression about Ubie and that it answered some of your questions. I have barely scratched the surface of topics that I could write about. Even with over a hundred employees now, the company is still growing rapidly. Another year from now, many new concepts will probably have been added or changed for sure, as it has been like this the whole time I have been working here.



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