It all began with a single user’s voice: “I’ve even given up on going to the grocery store just two blocks away.” In 2010, this simple statement from a friend was the start of it all. He was a wheelchair user who did not like the negative attention he got while using his wheelchair in public. He was seen as weak or ill, someone who needed the help of a large, imposing, unsightly machine to help him get around. As a friend, we knew him to be amazingly independent, fun loving and very social. We wanted everyone to be able to see the true person, the person we knew. So we set out to create a mobility device that would empower our friend, enable him to be himself and to do the things he wanted to with confidence and enthusiasm. A mobility device that would change the way he felt in public and one that would change how the public felt about him!
After a year of development, we not only gave our friend a revolutionary new vehicle, but we also exhibited our work at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show. We were overwhelmed by the positive reaction from all over the world. We realized that many people desired this kind of innovation and new found freedom in the mobility industry. We saw how meaningful what we were creating could be for people with mobility issues.
This is why we founded WHILL.Through ongoing development and production of Personal EVs, we will challenge today’s conventions and improve the personal mobility experience. As we do, we will redefine the perception of wheelchairs and their limitations through innovative design and advanced technology. Nobody should be limited because they don’t feel comfortable with how they move from point A to point B. We want every individual to be confident, comfortable and independent. Please view the YouTube video for more background.
Sugie Satoshi, Founder, CEO
Sugie worked for Nissan’s Advanced Transportation Department, where he helped develop the future of transportation based on real-user lifestyles. After Nissan, he founded Smile Park, an engineering startup that focused on new product development. In 2011, he cofounded the WHILL project. Sugie moved to San Francisco, California in 2012, to become WHILL’s CEO. Sugie is a member of the World Economic Forum and Davas Meeting GSC Japan member.
Junpei Naito, Founder, CDO
Junpei joined Sony Corporation in 2008 as a product engineer developing automotive cameras. He co-founded Sunny Side Garage, an engineering innovation unit, in 2009 and produced several products with his team. In 2011, he co-founded the WHILL Project.
Muneaki Fukuoka, Founder, CTO
Mune joined Olympus Corporation as a medical device engineer in 2008. Alongside Junpei, he was also a co-founder of Sunny Side Garage in 2009 and eventually started the WHILL Project in 2011. After co-founding WHILL, he resigned from Olympus and joined WHILL Inc. as the Chief Technology Officer in 2012.
Kenji Goho, COO/CFO
Kenji started his career in 1998 as an engineer at Panasonic, working on next-generation mobile communications technology. After experiencing corporate planning and strategic alliances, he made a career change to private equity in 2007, working as an investment professional at Unison Capital in Tokyo. Kenji has been supporting WHILL since 2015 and joined as COO / CFO in 2016. Kenji holds an MSE from Keio University and MBA from Insead.
Ted Fagenson, VP Sales and Marketing, North America
Ted Fagenson is the VP of Sales and Marketing, North America for WHILL. Ted has had proven success crafting and executing marketing and sales strategies that accelerates company revenues with such notable Silicon Valley start-ups as Polycom, 2Wire, and ChargePoint. Previously, he was the co-founder of Skrownge, a mobile entertainment rewards platform for retailers to engage shoppers. It used geo-location and machine learning algorithms to showcase relevant brand content to deliver personalized brand promotions.
Shogo Koda, VP Business Development, Europe
Shogo is a cross-border business development specialist with more than 10 years of international business experiences. Prior to joining WHILL, he was a key member of the mineral resource business team of Sumitomo Corporation, one of Japan’s biggest investment and trading houses. He has wide-ranging business experience in M&A, physical commodity trading, and investment portfolio management. He holds a BA in Sociology from Rikkyo University and an MBA from the University of Cambridge.
Co-founder and former CEO of Sun Microsystems
Watch Scott McNealy’s Interview about WHILL
Owner, Beneficial Designs, Inc.
Nishimura & Asahi, Seikei University School of Law, Legal Training and Research Institute of Supreme Court of Japan
Owner CEO, Decus Biomedical LLC
Co-Founder ACCESS, Founder TomyK
Sherman Nam Tran, MD
President, Spine & Sports Medical Group & General Partner, Spine & Sports Surgery Center
Kanagawa rehabilitation center rehabilitation engineering laboratory
Fumiaki Ikeno, M.D
Stanford biodesign /Stanford University
Managing Partner at Crystal Tech Fund
Investor, Marketer, Blogger
Inside Sales/Product Specialist
This position plays a vital sales role in WHILL’s revenue engine throughout North America. We’re looking for an energetic, highly motivated individual who has a passion for sales, and thrives in an environment that is challenging yet rewarding. You are a partner to the field sales team helping to ensure they are more productive and efficient in order to expedite the sales cycle. Through strategic planning, cross-functional collaboration and operational excellence, you help shape how we maximize our business performance. This position offers a unique opportunity to build tangible skills that touch all areas of our business: sales, marketing, and customer success.
WHILL was started by a group of automotive, consumer electronics, and medical device designers and engineers who dreamed of pushing the boundaries of pedestrian transportation for everyone, especially for those who have difficulty walking. Tired of witnessing antiquated products focused on meeting medical insurance requirements rather than user needs, WHILL set out to build a unique alternative. One that is inspired by user-centric design principles that solve customer problems first and foremost. WHILL’s goal is to redefine the wheelchair and how it is perceived. Drawing on its design and engineering acumen, WHILL manufactures intelligent personal EVs that empower people to feel comfortable going anywhere in style.
- Proven track record of lead qualification and sales pipeline management
- Able to quickly understand customer needs, present value-added solutions and determine willingness to buy
- Maintain product and industry knowledge in order to build value-added, consultative information to channel partners
- Create and manage sales pipeline opportunities throughout the sales cycle, and maintain sales forecasts
- Provide regular reports on sales progress, detailing company defined KPIs, and tracking actuals vs. forecasts using salesforce.com
- Team with regional sales managers to ensure co-ordination of activities to achieve sales targets
- Close working relationship with the lead generation marketing team to insure qualified leads are properly codified and handed off to the appropriate channel partner
- Work collaboratively and effectively with channel marketing to drive new incremental business
- 2-5 years medical device inside sales or sales operations experience is preferred
- Demonstrated working knowledge and experience with Salesforce.com to effectively manage sales pipeline and forecast
- Experience in working opportunities with channel partners, outside sales, and channel marketing
- Excellent follow through, attention to detail, and time management skills
- Must be a highly motivated self-starter with excellent oral and written communication skills
- Highly motivated individual who can build a positive, challenging and dynamic work environment.
- Outstanding interpersonal skills
- Bachelor’s degree or equivalent required