Learn more about

Grasping Opportunities with Both Hands at Lunaris

Sébastien is a developer at Lunaris, where he is in charge of developing and maintaining their ecommerce site, Solaris Japan, and the related applications. He talks about what makes Lunaris stand out as a workplace and how he turned a part-time opportunity into his current role.

Photo of Sébastien Roegiers
Sébastien Roegiers

Sébastien moved to Japan from Belgium and was looking for work while studying Japanese, when a personal connection helped him land a job at Lunaris. He said, “I had a friend who was working at Lunaris, and he gave me the opportunity to start working there part time. I was extremely lucky to have this opportunity, and I just grasped it with both hands. I guess it was a good fit, because Lunaris ended up offering me a full-time role.”

Lunaris began as a webstore called Solaris Japan, which built a number of custom applications to streamline their own workflows that are built on top of Shopify, a Canadian ecommerce platform. The applications saved time and money, and in 2017, they began marketing them to other businesses. Now, they offer web development services to companies wanting to begin or improve their ecommerce solutions.

Originally the company was an ecommerce site, and because of the needs of those apps, that’s where Lunaris came from. First we built the apps for our own website and now that’s also a big part of our business.

Sébastien said, “Lunaris has two major apps that people are working on, easyPoints and Smapify, and other minor applications. EasyPoints is a point system for Shopify, and Smapify is something that syncs Shopify and Smaregi, a POS software.”

Sébastien mainly works on the Solaris Japan side of things, and is in charge of maintaining and developing those applications, which include the website and the warehouse fulfillment application. He said, “We only have three people on my side, the Lunaris side has five or six. Of the three on my side, one is the senior dev of both teams. He’s actually the friend who introduced me to this job. He has the final say on things, but most of the time planning and working on features for the Solaris side is left to me and my team member.”

As a small company, there are many opportunities to take on new responsibilities and gain experience in areas that you are interested in. Sébastien really appreciates how his opinion has been heard from day one, and how Lunaris has trusted him to achieve what he sets out to accomplish. He said, “You do have to wear a lot of hats, but I think it’s the best way to learn and grow. It’s not like they said, ‘okay, you’re now in charge of this’. It was more me trying to take pressure off the senior dev and contribute more to the application. I started doing more and more, and I moved into this role.”

There was a lot of stuff I had to learn that I didn’t have experience in, and they helped me a lot, but it was up to me to step up and improve my weak points.

For Sébastien, a continuing challenge has been learning to balance his growing responsibilities. He said, “About a year after I joined, there were suddenly people working under me that were junior in some ways. So finding a balance between helping them and also doing my own tasks was challenging. Another challenge at the moment is, there are times when I’m not 100% sure the best approach, but I still have to make a decision that determines the direction we take the apps on the Solaris side.”

Lunaris aims to monitor progress and help team members hit their goals by conducting regular one-on-ones as well as an employee evaluation every six months. Sébastien said, “We come up with plans for every individual to tackle what they want to focus on and improve their skills. What are your strengths? Where do you want to grow? It’s also a chance to highlight any potential issues, including issues outside of work, and how the company can possibly help you with them.”

The team also has meetings every two weeks to plan out the next two weeks of work, balancing feature requests from customers and backlog tasks. While the developer team communicates in English, many of their clients are Japanese companies. Sébastien said, “Interaction with customers usually goes through customer support, they translate it and we reply via them. Customer support also collects requests, like how many clients want this, and that’s how we decide the priority. Other than that, we always have a backlog of features we want to do.”

Features are deployed on demand when they are completed and the team is comfortable releasing them. Sébastien described, “Lunaris has several stages of reviews, first there’s someone on your level, then potentially one above, then there’s the final review. We have a pipeline that checks the tests and formatting, and after that it’s in staging. That’s where customer support can go in and test as well. And after everything’s ok, everything is translated, if it’s a big feature potentially we announce it with an article or it just goes to production.”

With these checks in place, issues in production are rare, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen. Lunaris has a process in place to address and prevent future issues. Sébastien said, “It doesn’t matter who caused the issue, it’s just, let’s get it fixed and prevent it next time. First, we investigate the root cause and the scale of the issue. If it’s something we can roll back, we will do a roll back, otherwise we’ll do a hotfix. From there, we look into how we can prevent it, or if there’s anything we can improve.”

Sébastien feels that Lunaris’ unique strengths are its people, the founders Jacob and Chika, and how they’ve created an atmosphere that really makes team members feel valued. He said, “Jacob and Chika will literally say how grateful they are to us. They’re my bosses, but it feels like there isn’t any distance between us. We’re a tight team. The team will often do stuff together after hours. Last year for hanami, we went to Odaiba and went on a boat tour to places with lots of sakura. Soon some of us will go to Sendai because a coworker is going to perform with his band there.”

Another unique perk of Lunaris is they have weekly massages in the office. Sébastien said, “Every Wednesday, someone comes in and you can get a massage. Some people sync their office days for that, it’s like 30 minutes per person.”

Sébastien’s success is the result of his hard work, and how he made the most of the opportunities and environment Lunaris gave him. He said, “You can grow a lot and learn a lot. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked here; your opinion matters and people will listen. So far, it’s been a challenging but a very enriching experience. It’s not always like that, right? Life doesn’t always go the way you want it to. So I’m very grateful I got this opportunity.”

Open Jobs at Lunaris