Vermiculus Chairman Nils-Robert Persson on launching during a pandemic and structuring his company for growth

John Lothian

John Lothian

Executive Chairman and CEO

Nils-Robert Persson, chairman of the board of Vermiculus Financial Technology, had no intention of starting a new company after leaving Cinnober in 2019. What happened is he was asked and he couldn’t refuse. “When some of the best people you have ever worked with, and some of the customers you’re extremely proud of working with, come and ask you to start – it’s easy to start again,” Persson told John Lothian News at FIA Boca 2022.

Vermiculus was launched the week before the pandemic was declared. And Boca 2022 was the first time Persson met a customer face to face. He and the team that launched Vermiculus have worked together successfully for exchanges and clearing houses for 20 years. That expertise made taking the chance of doing a start-up plausible.

From an ownership point of view, it was important that the company be take-over proof and that its product could not be co-opted for ill use. 

“There were a couple of things that were important for us when we started the company,” Persson said. “One was to avoid that somebody could buy us and then do bad things with  what we have invented. And the only way for me to attract people coming to us was to prove that that will not happen.”

He is the founder and owner of the company. In three years, personnel will take over at least 75% of the company and Persson will retain 10%. This provides incentives for the employees to work in the company’s best interest and to accept some lower costs now as an investment for greater return in the future, Persson said. “But it’s also important for the customers knowing that this old guy, he will not be the one who takes the company to a situation where he would have to sell it,” Persson said. Because Vermicular customers are looking for long-term relationships, this  is a “very important part of our design of the company,” Persson said. 

The team developed almost every aspect of Vermiculus in a standardized manner so it is easier to implement in a shorter time frame. It can be used in the cloud, inhouse or as a hybrid. It’s AI enabled and the design comprises microservices, which enables elastic scalability and true modularity.

 “We have already developed almost 100 different microservices,” Persson said.  “It’s small pieces. It’s pieces in the risk area. It’s  pieces in the clearing area and trading area. It’s more small functional pieces, which can be used separately by customers.” he said. “So customers don’t need to do a big bang in the future. They can take out small parts of their existing systems and replace them with our microservices. And I think that’s good for us and is good for our customers.”

That scalability reduces risk and means the customer can stay as small or go as large as they want, he added. 

Persson says that given the timing of launching during the pandemic you’d think the customers would be those that you have an old relationship with. In Vermiculus’ case,  “The first four customers, two of them we had never worked with before and MIAX was one of them. And MIAX is an entrepreneurial exchange —  very successful in my view. … They came very early and we have already worked with them for a long period.”

“The relationship is fantastic. They are a small exchange with almost the same situation we have with the technology,” he said.

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