We’re seeing some excellent European companies make successful transitions into becoming global software companies. This is an excellent and inspiring story for European startups to emulate.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Martin Verwijmeren: I’m from the Netherlands but living in Boston these days. Before moving to Boston, I lived in Amsterdam. I was working for our European headquarters in Rotterdam. Nowadays, I’m working from our US headquarters in Boston.
Sramana Mitra: Are you the founder of this company?
Martin Verwijmeren: I’m the Co-Founder and CEO.
Sramana Mitra: Tell me a little bit about your personal story leading up to MP Objects. You grew up in Amsterdam?
Martin Verwijmeren: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: What about studies? What did you study? Where did you study? What kind of path did you take?
Martin Verwijmeren: I studied Industrial Engineering and Physics. I decided that I want to contribute to academics and research so I decided to do a PhD. That PhD was on advanced information technology for supply chain management.
Sramana Mitra: All this was in the Netherlands?
Martin Verwijmeren: Yes. I got intrigued by all kinds of algorithms which you could apply to very small agent-like systems to manage supply chains better and reduce inventory levels across companies at a scale which we’ve not seen before. Then, I decided to move on to make my career in business.
I worked for a telco which was also going into IT. There, I climbed the ranks of management. I became the IT Director and then VP IT. I was managing the technology for Western Europe and dealing with large customers of TNT. I got a nice career but I had to acknowledge that a sophisticated technology I worked for myself was not available at all in this big corporation.
I had a great career and it’s pretty predictable if I continue like that. At the same time, I had an aspiration when I did my PhD. Then I decided to explore what I can do about it. I contacted a good friend of mine Paul to join forces. He experienced the same thing working on ERP systems and advanced planning systems in international corporations. We decided to build software components to manage supply chains better.
Sramana Mitra: What year was this?
Martin Verwijmeren: We got the platform ready in 2010. We had already started the early explorations around 2000. In 2010, we launched the platform.
Sramana Mitra: Who else was involved?
Martin Verwijmeren: On the tech side, the other co-founder was Paul. On the business side, it was myself.
Sramana Mitra: So two co-founders?
Martin Verwijmeren: Exactly.
Sramana Mitra: How did you know your co-founder?
Martin Verwijmeren: We know each other from childhood.
Sramana Mitra: That’s always good to have a deeper relationship.
Martin Verwijmeren: We were friends even at university.
Sramana Mitra: You quit your job and started this in a garage. You were self-financing?
Martin Verwijmeren: Yes.
Sramana Mitra: What were the specs? What was the idea? What problem were you going to solve? How did you validate that idea?
Martin Verwijmeren: The idea was to manage supply chains end-to-end across multiple enterprises, optimizing for each and every order and creating a unique flow.