Techstars: Day 31 (Clueless)

One of the challenges we have with Rainbird is that the core of it is written in Prolog. Mentioning Prolog generally gets one of two responses. The first, and most predictable, is a blank look. Prolog is not exactly mainstream. The second response comes from those with a computer science degree and goes “Prolog… wow! I’ve not used that since university”.

So we’re replacing Prolog with a graph database. This still gets us blank looks from the first group of people, but that doesn’t matter, they don’t need to know how it works under the covers. What it does change is the number of people in the second group who understand the technology we’re using. This can be used to our advantage.

So I understand about using graph databases and writing programs to interrogate them. That’s not hard. What I don’t understand is how these databases behave under different conditions and what difficulties we may be setting ourselves up for later as we scale. This is where being at Techstars comes in useful.

Techstars setup a number of what they call “Office Hours”. Basically a period of time where useful people will be in the office and you can book a quick meeting with them. One of these was with Tony Blank from context.io. I mentioned to Tony that I could do with speaking to someone who knew more about graph databases than I did. Tony pointed me at the CEO of orchestrate.io because they know about databases. The CEO introduced me to their CTO and lead technical guy and before I know it I’ve got them coming to visit to talk to me.

In the space of a week I’ve gone from clueless to having access to a huge wealth of information on how our approach is going to work, even at scale. This kind of useful introduction, and willingness to help and provide information goes on all the time which is one of the key things that makes this programme so useful for me. My next challenge for them is to arrange a meeting with the technical guys from the company who actually write the database we’ve settled on using. I don’t doubt they’ll deliver.