Sramana: Let’s talk about the rest of your team. You were in business school, but you had technical co-founders. How did this team come together?
Derek Roos: At the company that I was working for while I was going to business school, there was another individual there who became my co-founder. He had a technical background. The three of us started Mendix together. What really made that core team so strong was that we had a shared vision for the platform and the problem we were solving, but maybe even more important, it was a shared belief and a mission to build a company that would be able to attract, retain, and develop the brightest minds we could find. Even today that drives our success. We want to have a team that is changing the world. Technology changes, and we have seen many changes in the last eight years. What has remained consistent are the vision and drive of our team.
Sramana: How far did you go with product development and selling? How much revenue were you able to generate?
Derek Roos: We had two phases where we raised outside capital. The first time was after a year and a half. By then we had done close to $1 million in revenue.
Sramana: Were you selling only in the Netherlands by that time, or were you selling outside the Netherlands as well?
Derek Roos: At the time our sales were very local. We actually saw it as a proof of concept. We had to prove that the technology would work and that the market was big enough for us to build a global company. We spent the first couple of years trying to figure out how the market works. We were partly shaping the market because there was such disbelief that this was true. People were dreaming about it but they were not looking for it. The reason we raised our initial seed round was because we were ready to expand our product development team. I still served as the marketing and sales team. We had 15 developers or so.
Sramana: Did you raise your first round in Amsterdam?
Derek Roos: Yes.
Sramana: What was that process like?
Derek Roos: We always saw ourselves as a global startup. We looked outside of the Netherlands to find a VC partner. We had the benefit of establishing a substantial reputation in our local market because we had big name clients. We were known and doing well. We won a couple of awards in those first two years, and that really put us on the map. That made conversations with local VCs far better than U.S.-based VCs because the U.S. VCs did not know us. In hindsight I am happy that it turned out that way. We went with an Amsterdam- and London-based VC. We were looking for a financial partner as well as a partner who were entrepreneurs themselves. We could speak the same language that way.