How our PrintOps system works

A multi-lingual, global, zero inventory network, synced with a single command that prints thousands of books a day

At Lost My Name we print a lot of ‘Print on Demand’ (POD) books. Over 146,000 at the time of writing. Yesterday we printed over 3000 in one day, our best day ever.

Designing a POD system to operate at this scale poses significant engineering challenges.

  • Scale. We need our system to be able to grow quickly in order to satisfy the rapidly growing demand for our books. We’re currently experiencing sales growth of 20% week on week in the run up to Christmas.
  • Speed. We have customers all over the world, and we need to ship their books to them as quickly as possible.
  • Quality. We want every customer to get the same high quality book.
  • Agility. We want to be able to easily update and improve our books when our writers and illustrators have new ideas for story segments or improvements in layout. We’re already on our sixth iteration of Lost My Name.
  • Variety. We want to be able to sell our books in multiple languages, with different cover and gift wrap options.

All this adds up to a significant engineering challenge that we solve with two key ideas.

1. A global, standardised production network

The first big idea is to try to get total consistency in delivery across all our print houses, and to ensure we have a good distribution of locations.

We currently have a global network of print houses (two in the UK, one in the US and very soon one in Australia), and every print house is capable of printing every variety of POD product we sell — soft back, hard back, all languages.

We then create commercial arrangements with each print house where they are paid per book shipped within a specific timeframe. We’re aiming for a zero inventory business, which reduces waste and keeps costs very tightly tied to demand.

We currently allocate orders based on physical proximity to the shipping address of the customer and try to ensure the shortest delivery time possible. In the future we’d like to build a bidding system in to our print house supply chain to help manage supply and demand more efficiently.

2. A single, synced, asset pipeline

The second thing we do is run a single centralised system for managing the assets that make up the POD book that allows us to sync changes to our print houses with a single command.

Before we explain how this works, its important to understand the nature of the POD book we create at Lost My Name.

Currently, a Lost My Name book is made up from a combination of several different story segments, each of which represents four high quality, full colour spreads. The various segments we have are:

  • 28 story segments for every letter in the alphabet
  • 3 ‘helper’ story segments
  • 1 bridge story segment
  • We have an intro, an outro and a cover for every book

This is a total of 448 high dpi images for the actual POD book, plus 290 low dpi images for the preview we offer on our website.

In addition, with every new language we add that figure increases one fold. For example, here’s our index of British English book assets

And here’s our index of German assets:

Each page of the high quality size image is around 5MB, so thats 20MB per segment. The average book we print has 5.6 letters plus an intro and an outro (four pages each), so that’s 142MB per book.

As mentioned earlier, we over 3000 books yesterday (and we’re growing 20% week on week right now).

If we operated a system that rendered each book on our servers that would mean sending 397GB of images over the internet yesterday — a significant cost. Over the lifetime of the business so far, that would be around 16TB of data.

So instead, we operate a system whereby each print house hosts a synced version of our book assets locally, and we just send them .csv files once the order is completed on our website.

Once the print house server receives the .csv file it then gathers the correct story segments that make up the child’s name, puts them in the right order and renders out the unique PDF to be printed.

Here’s what the system looks like:

One of the coolest things about this design is the workflow we’re developing to allow our writers and illustrators to easily update our book — the ‘agility’ challenge mentioned at the start of this piece.

Today, if you want to pull down all the assets onto a local machine you can do this with a single command (provided you are running our Zebra sync app):

$ bin/sync

And if you make changes and then want our global network of print houses to start printing your improved story immediately, you simply type:

$ cap production sync_assets

This is really awesome and something we’re very excited about — it means that updating and improving our book is closer to the git workflow used by our software engineers.

How can we improve?

Our entire system is very much work in progress . We’re learning as we go, and would love to hear from other PrintOps specialists about how they do things on twitter, or in the comments— and if you’d like to help us more directly we’re hiring!

Some of the obvious things we’d like to do next include:

  • A bidding system for print houses to help manage demand better
  • Better management of our PrintOps test environments
  • The ability to offer our system from the cloud — some print houses are already requesting this
  • Version control on our publishing workflow
  • More instrumentation in the print houses so we can expose the awesome POD process to customers

P.S — Follow us on twitter for more updates on how we’re making Lost My Name and if you enjoyed this piece please hit recommend below. Ta!

Join us!

If you’d like to come and work, play and hang out with us, here’s what we’re looking for. Though you could just send us something phenomenal, leaving us with no choice but to follow up, to:

careers@lostmy.name

Midweight Digital Designer

At Lost My Name, we're making the most technically ambitious physical books ever invented. We’re making storybooks magical for a new generation by creating impossible stories on a timeless medium, like a story that is created entirely out of a child’s name or making a book with NASA images and the world's first book that shows your own neighbourhood, your own street, your own house(!) in a book made especially for you. Oh, and speaking of NASA, we’d like to take this opportunity to brag that Tim Peake read Our Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home in actual space.

We write, illustrate, build, design, and sell all of our products directly, and have a team working to produce our wonderful products spanning from Art Directors to Dev Ops. We have sold more than 2.5 million books, games and posters in over 200 countries, and we’re just getting started! With the work you’ll do here with us, we’d like to think we’re on track towards becoming the UK’s most admired creative company.

About you

  • 4+ years experience, some of which will have come from having worked at a reputable design, advertising or communications agency
  • You should be comfortable in using data to solve problems and delivering against commercial objectives
  • Confident in implementing design systems
  • Competent in Sketch, Adobe suite, Marvel, Invision
  • You have worked closely with brands
  • Be comfortable presenting, and being challenged.
  • You are optimistic, proactive and open to change
  • You can deliver and are decisive
  • You’ll have a natural urge to explore bigger and better ways to visually communicate
  • You will be able to demonstrate a understanding of UX challenges
  • If you have experience in designing responsive sites for well-known brands then awesome!

About the role

  • You will be taking briefs and transforming them into intuitive, accessible, and beautiful designs that emotionally connect with our customers.
  • Working with the team and stakeholders across the business to deliver these design solutions
  • Owning the end-to-end design process for any project you work on (with support from the Digital Design Director)
  • Supporting internal teams to shape requirements
  • Iterating through design concepts quickly with appropriate feedback from colleagues
  • Testing designs using a range of techniques
  • Initiating smaller projects

Why join Lost My Name?

  • You’ll get a sweet, SWEET training budget. £1k to attend whichever conference or training you’d like, wherever you like. Or you could learn some Spanish in Dalston, it's your call.
  • We offer Yoga class every Monday night; just one of the many ways we keep centred and calm, despite the (occasional) chaos of startup life.
  • We also have massages if yoga isn’t your thing, for everyone who wants one on Fridays. If you like neither yoga, nor massages (hey, they aren’t for everyone) we also offer mental health support through Sanctus, where you can speak to a wellness coach about how you’re doing.
  • We have an office Sauna.
  • We also provide a private healthcare plan, a pension plan and childcare vouchers (according to your plans) to show you we care.
  • We have heaps of snacks. Like, so many snacks. And you can always suggest your favourite new ones to be added to our shopping trolley.
  • Speaking of food: Team lunches. We nearly forgot team lunches. Every Thursday our Studio Manager, Shim, orders some super delish food from somewhere in London and we gorge ourselves. It sounds intense, but it's actually quite chill.
  • Our office is full of puppies.

Japanese Speaking Customer Service Angel

We're looking for someone to help us share the Lost My Name magic with our friends in Japan! We’re looking for a brilliant Customer Service Angel to help support our increasing presence in Japan. What kinds of things would you get up to in this fun, flexible role? We are so glad that you asked...

Customer Service, mostly...

People approach us with all kinds of queries. Sometimes they just want to know how much shipping is to Tokyo (it's FREE!). Other times, a book has gone on a different route in the mail system and we need to re-create it ASAP in time for a birthday party. Occasionally a customer would like to change a shipping address, or add a personal dedication.

We also get an incredible amount of feedback with ideas for improvement and future products, and just lots and lots of heartfelt thanks for such a wonderful book. These are just a handful of examples of the issues and topics we deal with on a daily basis. And we like to answer and solve ALL of these inquiries in the same way: super responsive, polite, empathic and delightful. We handle our customer support through a collaborative online platform where you can respond, solve, escalate, re-assign, tag and archive all queries in an efficient and transparent way. If you know how to use Facebook or Gmail, you’ll have no problems with our system.

What else should you know?

The role is a remote working opportunity, with some time flexibility to suit you - e.g. mornings, evenings and weekends. There’ll be an induction period with our marvellous training and co-ordinating team, along with a detailed explanation of how it all works.

So do you think that you can help us? If so, then click Apply Now.

  • You got a flair for friendly and positive digital communication - you know how to be nice, and genuinely lovely online
  • Fluency in Japanese and English language (written and spoken) essential
  • You’re looking for a genuinely exciting and meaningful new adventure, and the idea of making children more curious and kind sounds awesome
  • You must be available for at least 20 hours per week (flexible, including weekends)
  • You’re a super motivated, dedicated, smart and an energetic self-starter
  • Ability to work under pressure and adapt quickly to adverse situations

Lead Designer

At Lost My Name, we're making the most technically ambitious physical books ever invented. We’re making storybooks magical for a new generation by creating impossible stories on a timeless medium, like a story that is created entirely out of a child’s name or making a book with NASA images and the world's first book that shows your own neighbourhood, your own street, your own house in a book made especially for you. Oh, and speaking of NASA, we’d like to take this opportunity to brag that Tim Peake read Our Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home in actual space.

We write, illustrate, build, design, and sell all of our products directly, and have a team working to produce our wonderful products spanning from Art Directors to Dev Ops. We have sold more than 2.5 million books, games and posters in over 200 countries, and we’re just getting started! With the work you’ll do here with us, we’d like to think we’re on track towards becoming the UK’s most admired creative company.

As our Lead Designer, you will be responsible for directing a talented team of graphic designers, artworkers, and photographers. Your team will be responsible for producing creative work for a variety of business partners, from marketing to product development. The work will consist of design and advertising work, from print collateral and digital advertising to fully-integrated campaigns.

Alongside the Creative Director, you’ll be leading the charge in continually raising the creative standards of the team. You’ll drive conceptual thinking and push beautiful design executions, whilst always delivering against commercial objectives.

You’ll be inspired and be inspiring – having a real passion for all things creative. You’ll have a natural urge to explore bigger and better ways to visually communicate. And your time management skills, coupled with general organisational skills, will be the envy of all those around you. You’ll be client-facing and comfortable presenting up to senior management.

In this role, you will report to the Creative Director and will work out of our base in Hackney.

What you'll be doing

  • With the CD, lead a team of creatives across multiple disciplines including graphic design, photography, artworking and animation.
  • Oversee the design and production of design across multiple platforms – print, digital, video and animation.
  • Responsible for working with internal clients and stakeholders across multiple regions, ensuring work is on brief.
  • Use a good awareness of design processes to question and challenge design briefs and solve design problems.
  • Promote strategic thinking and commercial awareness.
  • Be aware of current design trends and attitudes to help inspire the team.
  • Work closely with the CD to promote ‘big concept’ thinking.
  • Support Studio Management to assess and assign the right people to projects.

About You

  • 10+ years industry experience - some of which will have come from having worked at a reputable design, advertising or communications agency. We are looking for someone with rounded experience across all communication disciplines.
  • Demonstrable experience working across a broad range of disciplines – print, digital, video and animation.
  • Have worked on integrated marketing / advertising campaigns.
  • Mentoring, nurturing, inspiring and motivating others will come naturally to you.
  • Exceptional time management.
  • Meticulous crafting and attention to detail.
  • Excellent communication and presentation skills.
  • Dedicated and passionate about design, ready to challenge the status quo with a view of evolving creative output.
  • Recognised design degree.

Finally, over the course of many years, you’ll have developed a portfolio of conceptually strong and beautiful work that clearly demonstrates how your work answers commercial briefs across many disciplines – spanning both print and digital.

Why join Lost My Name

  • You’ll get a sweet, SWEET training budget. £1k to attend whichever conference or training you’d like, wherever you like. Or you could learn some Spanish in Dalston, it's your call.
  • We offer Yoga class every Monday night; just one of the many ways we keep centred and calm, despite the (occasional) chaos of startup life.
  • We also have massages if yoga isn’t your thing, for everyone who wants one on Fridays. If you like neither yoga, nor massages (hey, they aren’t for everyone) we also offer mental health support through Sanctus, where you can speak to a wellness coach about how you’re doing.
  • We have an office Sauna.
  • We also provide a private healthcare plan, a pension plan and childcare vouchers (according to your plans) to show you we care.
  • We have heaps of snacks. Like, so many snacks. And you can always suggest your favourite new ones to be added to our shopping trolley.
  • Speaking of food: Team lunches. We nearly forgot team lunches. Every Thursday our Studio Manager, Shim, orders some super delish food from somewhere in London and we gorge ourselves. It sounds intense, but it's actually quite chill.
  • Our office is full of puppies.

Senior Copywriter

At Lost My Name, we're making the most technically ambitious physical books ever invented. We’re making storybooks magical for a new generation by creating impossible stories on a timeless medium, like a story that is created entirely out of a child’s name or making a book with NASA images and the world's first book that shows your own neighbourhood, your own street, your own house(!) in a book made especially for you. Oh, and speaking of NASA, we’d like to take this opportunity to brag that Tim Peake read Our Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home in actual space.

We write, illustrate, build, design, and sell all of our products directly, and have a team working to produce our wonderful products spanning from Art Directors to Dev Ops. We have sold more than 2.5 million books, games and posters in over 200 countries, and we’re just getting started! With the work you’ll do here with us, we’d like to think we’re on track towards becoming the UK’s most admired creative company.

Words are brilliant. But there are millions of them, and without good writers, words just sit there in the wrong order saying the wrong things. Rotters.

We’re looking for a remarkably creative comms writer who can make words do exactly (exactly!) what they need them to: entertain, surprise, jump through hoops, play the cello — anything they command. Someone with the ability to be playful and hilarious, who isn’t afraid of a good pun, but who is also marvellously disciplined and hard-working. And they should be brilliant at ideas too.

Feeling confident?

You should have a lot of experience writing comms. You have the knack to be funny and clever without being self-indulgent. You have a light touch but can also land a message with real weight. You know how to edit yourself, how to think about messaging hierarchy, how to make people open emails, click buttons and buy products. And you should be able to create funny, sharable content that your mum might see and chuckle at before boasting to friends that you came up with it. You should also be self-motivated, pro-active, collaborative and self-sufficient. You should know how to write for email, social media or on the side of a banana.

Most importantly, you can make people smile every time they read your words or ideas.

Lost My Name is one of Britain’s fastest-growing brands and this is an opportunity to help turn a successful start-up into a global name. We are a playful, kind brand. This opportunity will be ridiculously exciting to a smart, funny, eloquent, engaging, intelligent, autonomous, experienced, creative and all-round superb candidate.

The team you’ll be working in delivers creative output at a higher-frequency than any other team in the business. We literally ship handfuls of content every week and watch and learn from the public reaction. We get to directly shape and influence the brand by continuously exploring and publishing new concepts and ideas.

This role is the sole copywriter in the team, which gives you a central role in expressing the tone of the brand. You will report to a very experienced writer, who can help you sharpen your talent even more.

What you'll be doing

  • Writing emails and blog posts for our weekly Editorial content
  • Writing humourous, sharable content for Twitter & Facebook
  • Collaborating with our designers to devise and develop creative editorial concepts
  • Writing pithy, dad-joke-esque comments on our Instagram content
  • Writing emails for product promotions
  • Helping to firm up our tone of voice for Twitter and Pinterest channels
  • Helping to champion and promote the brand tone of voice across the business

Experience

  • 5+ years’ experience as a copywriter for well known and/or playful/entertaining consumer-facing brands
  • 3+ years of experience with SEO, email, web copy
  • Ability to produce both long-form and short-form writing
  • Extensive experience and understanding of all social channels, including behaviours and algorithms

Why join Lost My Name

  • You’ll get a sweet, SWEET training budget. £1k to attend whichever conference or training you’d like, wherever you like. Or you could learn some Spanish in Dalston, it's your call.
  • We offer Yoga class every Monday night; just one of the many ways we keep centred and calm, despite the (occasional) chaos of startup life.
  • We also have massages if yoga isn’t your thing, for everyone who wants one on Fridays. If you like neither yoga, nor massages (hey, they aren’t for everyone) we also offer mental health support through Sanctus, where you can speak to a wellness coach about how you’re doing.
  • We have an office Sauna.
  • We also provide a private healthcare plan, a pension plan and childcare vouchers (according to your plans) to show you we care.
  • We have heaps of snacks. Like, so many snacks. And you can always suggest your favourite new ones to be added to our shopping trolley.
  • Speaking of food: Team lunches. We nearly forgot team lunches. Every Thursday our Studio Manager, Shim, orders some super delish food from somewhere in London and we gorge ourselves. It sounds intense, but it's actually quite chill.
  • Our office is full of puppies.

SVP of People

At Lost My Name, we're making the most technically ambitious physical books ever invented. We’re making storybooks magical for a new generation by creating impossible stories on a timeless medium, like a story that is created entirely out of a child’s name or making a book with NASA images and the world's first book that shows your own neighbourhood, your own street, your own house(!) in a book made especially for you. Oh, and speaking of NASA, we’d like to take this opportunity to brag that Tim Peake read Our Incredible Intergalactic Journey Home in actual space.

We write, illustrate, build, design, and sell all of our products directly, and have a team working to produce our wonderful products spanning from Art Directors to Dev Ops. We have sold more than 2.5 million books, games and posters in over 200 countries, and we’re just getting started! With the work you’ll do here with us, we’d like to think we’re on track towards becoming the UK’s most admired creative company.

One of our core values is ‘make something better’. You will help us build on an already strong culture and take our people and organisation to a new level of excellence. We’re looking for someone who can develop an exciting people strategy and vision for the next phase of growth (from 80 to 150). Your goal is to build the programs that will enable people to find the magical alignment between their personal growth and the company’s growth. You will elevate our talent acquisition process and output, help us solidify our brand, train our managers to be confident, high output leaders - ensuring that as we scale, we work smarter and get happier.

What we'd like to see from you

  • Create a clear, exciting and impactful HR strategy through progressive policies that include talent acquisition, training and development, compensation & benefits and culture.
  • Help us solidify our values, and ensure they are own-able (have the power to engage everyone in the business) and actionable (can be manifested through everyday behaviour).
  • Develop our HR tools and processes.
  • Develop training programs that help our people to become the best version of themselves.
  • Work with the senior management team to support and grow our managers and team leaders.
  • Evolve our employer’s brand in an impactful and measurable way - partnering with our Talent Acquisition team to make Lost My Name, top of mind, reputable, one of the preferable options for the scarce talent pool in London right now.

Traits that we'd like you to have

  • You’ve helped 1-2 startups to evolve from 20 to 80 to 160.
  • You were instrumental in the creation and support of high output organisation.
  • Experience in change management in both executive and mid-management levels.
  • Passion for people’s personal growth.
  • Culture-maker. You are a real evangelist of strong company culture. (Blogger is a big plus)
  • Experience in organisational design changes in fast-growth start-ups.
  • Experience in developing a Succession Plan across a fledgling organization where none has existed
  • Team building training - experience in design and development environment is a plus.
  • Proven experience in building disciplines across the organisation.
  • Have implemented performance review process ideally OKRs, and have some actionable insights in this area.

Why join Lost My Name

  • You’ll get a sweet, SWEET training budget. £1k to attend whichever conference or training you’d like, wherever you like. Or you could learn some Spanish in Dalston, it's your call.
  • We offer Yoga class every Monday night; just one of the many ways we keep centred and calm, despite the (occasional) chaos of startup life.
  • We also have massages if yoga isn’t your thing, for everyone who wants one on Fridays. If you like neither yoga, nor massages (hey, they aren’t for everyone) we also offer mental health support through Sanctus, where you can speak to a wellness coach about how you’re doing.
  • We have an office Sauna.
  • We also provide a private healthcare plan, a pension plan and childcare vouchers (according to your plans) to show you we care.
  • We have heaps of snacks. Like, so many snacks. And you can always suggest your favourite new ones to be added to our shopping trolley.
  • Speaking of food: Team lunches. We nearly forgot team lunches. Every Thursday our Studio Manager, Shim, orders some super delish food from somewhere in London and we gorge ourselves. It sounds intense, but it's actually quite chill.
  • Our office is full of puppies.
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