Pioneering low-code: Mendix CEO on growing a business in the US

What does it truly take for a technology vendor to orchestrate a successful move to the US from Europe? We spoke with Mendix CEO Derek Roos to find out how he found success as a low-code provider in the States, and the challenges he faced as a vendor in a maturing market.

Since being founded in 2005, low-code technology provider Mendix has proved it's worth as a pioneering company of a bourgeoning platform that struggled to gain traction in its early days. As a start-up organisation in the mid-‘00s, Mendix found it difficult to lure big-name customers to adopt low-code technology, which uses graphical user interfaces to automate many aspects of software development, without the need for rusted-on developers and streams of code. Despite this, they steadily grew their customer base and helped to forge the multibillion-dollar market that low-code is today.

Low-code (or no-code) seeks to put the power of application development into the hands of less technical users, in an effort to speed up application development cycles and solve the developer talent gap. As one of the first companies to offer a low-code development platform, Mendix encountered a range of challenges in establishing a market for their offerings. However, with the company's recent (USD) $730 million purchase by German conglomerate Siemens, and a low-code market that is only getting more profitable, Mendix appears to be on a healthy trajectory for further growth. 

Ahead of the company's annual Mendix World event in Rotterdam, we spoke to CEO of Mendix Derek Roos about how he initially managed to get Mendix off the ground and why he felt it was important to move his business from the Netherlands to the United States. Roos talks about the differences he found between operating in the US and Europe, and how Salesforce entering the market as a competitor of Mendix in the early days actually proved to be beneficial for his company.


When you first founded Mendix in 2005, what was the issue you were trying to solve? What was the market opportunity that you initially saw?

I was still in school at the time and I was working for a company that operated as a custom software development shop. We built custom websites, e-commerce sites, and things like that. I was the guy in between the customers and the IT guys, and it was in that environment that we came up with the idea for Mendix. We essentially wanted to solve an issue we were having with taking customer ideas, which were often undefined, and turning them into a reality as fast as possible. 

The problems we were grappling with were the same problems every organisation struggles with now. The primary issue was that it takes forever to build a custom application in general and by the time you eventually see the end result, it's rarely what you envisioned in the first place, or you have since changed your mind. 

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