Towards the end of 2011, I met a chap called Linus at Anime Festival Asia. He was following me around with a laptop with some of his work on it and was interested in an internship with us.
The graphical work he showed me did look nice but not incredible - but I was impressed with his persistence as he followed me around all the time!
We exchanged business cards. He then sent me an illustration of Mirai-chan that he done in Illustrator. I was impressed with the quality of his vector artwork and proceeded to speak with him over Skype.
Linus could speak quite a fair bit of Japanese which he picked up himself. But he didn't have enough skills that I required. Linus looked like a clever chap so I decided to invest time to train him - well it was more like getting him to train himself - I only gave him guidance.
I gave him test after test which he not only passed but went above and beyond.
The first test was to learn HTML and CSS3 which he ended up doing in 3 days - I gave him a mockup of a website (as a flat image) and a link to W3 Schools and told him of Google Sensei who lived on the planet Dagobah.
Google Sensei taught me all my Internet and graphical skills and I'm sure that Google Sensei would teach Linus the same - all Linus had to do was to ask Sensei.
In 3 days, not only did Linus manage to make the mockup from pure CSS (no table tags) but he also took the opportunity to learn JQuery and put in a rotating slideshow which I didn't request.
The second test was to edit a video for me using Final Cut Pro X - I sent him a few clips and told him to consult with Google Sensei again.
Despite having no previous knowledge of Final Cut Pro, just like myself, he picked up all the information that he needed - it cant get more easier than typing "Final Cut Pro X Tutorial."
The final test was to set up a server on his Mac and open up a port so that I could access it from Japan. Linus had no prior server knowledge but managed to do this task in a single night just by asking Google Sensei.
I hired Linus who became our Creative Director and COO. Linus worked with us for 3 years before deciding to focus on his studies full time at Waseda University. Linus is one of the smartest people I know and could probably even outsmart a bullet.
Linus lay down the foundations for our branding strategy which not only enabled us to reach out to a wider consumer base but also work more efficiently and smarter with such a small team. He will be sorely missed ><
This photo was taken in March 2012 when we moved the office again - but now to the 2nd floor of our house ^^; The 1st floor was so cold and dark where sunlight only came in during the morning as our house is surrounded by other houses which are less than a meter away on each side ;-;
One month after this photo was taken, we launched a Japanese learning product that I created (and designed by Linus) called Moekana - it was a pack of hiragana learning cards which sold so many that we came out with a second edition and was followed by the release of the kanji learning cards Moekanji. Sales generated from these products generated more cash flow which enabled me to work on a prototype of what was to become our flagship product.