Interview with CrowdX co-founder and CTO, Derek Crous

CrowdX is a new venue for investing and trading in private companies, which provides the opportunity to raise financing and offer a liquid secondary market for existing shareholders. Derek Crous (we all call him ‘Deek’) is an IT specialist. With almost four decades’ worth of development experience and 15 years as CTO he co-founded CrowdX to help deliver success and share his knowledge with the marketplace’s own development team. We spoke to Derek to understand more about why CrowdX was created and what sets it apart.

Can you tell me about your day to day role within CrowdX?

As Chief Technology Officer, my role in CrowdX predominantly revolves around the architecture, direction of travel and roadmap for our proprietary secondary market solution, as we are using a third party to deliver the primary market product. As a small, focussed team, this means we can follow an agile approach with the key challenge being finding a balance when it comes to improving aspects such as transparency, robustness and security whilst also ensuring we continually add new features that help differentiate the offering in every release.

Apart from the usual oversight of the solution, a large part of any given day is also about crafting how to best implement any new feature that fits not only with short-term need to get to market, but the longer-term vision of what we want CrowdX to be. Occasionally, this even involves me doing some of the actual coding as well, an opportunity I thoroughly enjoy and it helps keep my hand in, too. 

How are you going to keep CrowdX ahead of the game/competitors?

Our solution architecture borrows heavily from what the tech industry has termed the “micro-services philosophy” and comprises a host of smaller modules that act in unison to create the overall offering. Because each module is designed to do one thing and do it well, the inherent separation of interests delivers a significant benefit when it comes to delivering robust functionality, whilst also enabling us to offer a “mini-market” concept. We wanted to avoid the restrictions of a traditional, one-size-fits-all market where tradable instruments all have to conform to the same rules. Whilst this is entirely possible in our solution, our mini-marketmicro-services approach means we have the option at the other extreme of running every single instrument in its own market. That means we can dictate  unique sets of market mechanics, trading restrictions, operating hours and access permissions, all while sharing the same connectivity interfaces. We believe this will help us meet the evolving needs of our clients far more effectively, and above all allow us to be customer led.

 

What are the biggest challenges you foresee within the technology sector

It is no secret that the technology is fast-moving, ever-changing and constantly yielding new ideas, methodology and tools. Whilst this is very exciting to be a part of, as a small team of technologists one of our challenges is separating what to embrace and when to do this. Cool new tech usually surfs in on a hype curve, and once it settles down the real use cases become apparent – selectiveness and adoption timing is key to us.

 

And can you tell us a little about yourself, what excites you/gets you out of bed?

Over my career I have moved from programmer to managing a host of development teams, and everything in between. It may sound cliche, but as varied as these roles are, one thing has remained consistent – I love building software. Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by puzzles, quizzes, games and challenges. Building software ticks so many of these boxes – solving a difficult design decision is a lot like a brain teaser or a puzzle, getting a number of pieces to work together a lot like a strategy game, and as brutally frustrating as they can be, there is a great satisfaction that comes from playing detective, hunting down and finally squashing an elusive bug.  Any day doing this is a good day, add in a bit of coding and it’s even better.

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