| November 8, 2012

Finding Inner Peace: The Power of Partnership


By Elena Nikolova

When I started working for Philips in 2003, during my induction session, I was told that we not only “make things better,” but that we also “do things better.”

Many times, though, big companies everywhere get caught up in the “doing” and lose sight of the “making” part. Start-up companies, on the other hand, may have the opposite problem: They put 100 percent focus on the product and a bunch of flawed processes. Striking the right balance often proves elusive, and working with a company that has achieved this make vs. do balance is so rare, that when you find one, you need to blog about it, like I’m doing today.

We tip our hats to our partner, PalominoDB, a U.S.-based database consultancy. For almost a year, PalominoDB has donated hours to us on a monthly basis.  Worldreader, in general, and I, the team’s software development manager, in particular, feel very lucky to have their expertise at hand.

Every month, I would discuss with Moss, one of their engineers, how to make the best use of the time they donate to us (usually between 15 and 20 hours). Some of the work they have done includes writing screen-scraping scripts (Python and iMacros), consulting us on our database design, deploying a web application on AWS, and reviewing Ruby on Rails code, just to mention a few.  While this may sound like secret geek-tech jargon, it’s all very important to helping Worldreader track which books are sent to which Kindles at which schools in various parts of the world.

And, every month, no matter how close or how far the task lies from their field of specialization, they always deliver quality work, measured against the highest standards. Furthermore, if we do not manage to use up all of the hours they have donated, they bank them for the following month, which is always helpful as we grow and our IT needs expand.

We’re forever grateful for their dedication and commitment to helping us brings “Books to all” to the world. We’re looking forward to continuing our relationship, as the coming year will bring with it many technical and operational issues as we launch in even more countries.

The growth we are experiencing today and will continue to see in the near-term is exponential: We expect to distribute thousands of e-readers and to triple the number of e-books we deliver. This is fantastic news for the kids in our current and future projects, and a big responsibility for us as an organization. The importance of reliable database tools is growing almost exponentially, too, and it is not far-stretched to say that having PalominoDB as a partner in this moment is, indeed, what brings me calm and inner peace.