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How Pepper Content evaluates and onboards 45,000+ creators using Retool


Pepper Content is building the world’s largest content marketplace that connects freelancers and over 1,000 brands to provide content writing, design, and translation services.

To offer the best services to its customers, Pepper Content is constantly evaluating and onboarding high quality creators, including writers, designers, editors, and translators. But with the rate at which the company was scaling, it was hard for the team to keep up; as creators applied, the team couldn’t evaluate and onboard them quickly enough to meet demand coming from brands.

With over 45,000 creators applying to join Pepper Content, Rohit Agrawal, Pepper Content’s Head of Product, considered the complexity of the process. Bringing on a creator involved multiple rounds of evaluation to maintain a high level of quality. “It was becoming a challenge to review the increasing number of creators,” says Rohit. “We had to find a better, faster, more efficient way to manage the process.”

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This is the story about how Rohit Agrawal replaced a homegrown operations portal with Retool to evaluate and onboard more creators on its platform.

Moving away from maintenance—and towards useful, custom solutions

Initially, the team relied on Zoho CRM and a home-grown tool to evaluate and onboard creators. Their operations portal included several lengthy forms that were built from scratch, each component created by an engineer at Pepper Content. As a result, it presented several scaling problems.

First, it had to be maintained—something Rohit and his team didn’t want to do. Second, making changes to the platform required engineering resources, a scarcity at the growing company. Finally, the two systems—Zoho and their database—needed to stay in sync, which created more interruptions for engineers.

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Rohit decided it was time to retire the existing solution and implement Retool. He loved that the tables and queries would form the heart of their Retool apps and that almost every text box or element is configurable using syntax highlight and markdown support.

The team started by rolling out Retool for onboarding writers first.

“Every time we thought we needed a custom component and that it couldn’t be built on Retool, we were able to conjure a combination of components and make it work flawlessly without having to use another tool. That’s the power and flexibility of Retool.”

Now, Pepper Content uses a Retool app to evaluate and onboard all creators. Their Retool onboarding app is a table that displays all creators who have applied and their key information at a glance.

To evaluate a creator, the team clicks into the creator’s profile to see their details and work samples. The onboarding team can review the creator’s submissions in one place, evaluating it right from the Retool page with buttons and rating systems, like a thumbs up or down and a five-star button. And when they submit their evaluation, all of the information is automatically updated in the database.

A big time-saving advantage: when evaluators decide whether to onboard or reject a creator, all communication goes out directly from Retool itself, so they’re not hopping back and forth into their email.

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“The quick workflow allows our team to evaluate and onboard creators all in one place, and much faster than before, which is critical given the rate at which we’re scaling,” says Rohit.

Operational gains fuel faster scaling

Since rolling out Retool, Pepper Content has seen operational efficiency gains that are helping them scale faster.

In July of 2021 alone, an onboarding team of 3 was able to deeply evaluate over 5,000 creator profiles using Retool—a scale that had felt impossible with their previous systems.

And they keep expanding Retool to solve other use cases. For example, all peripheral tools at Pepper Content are now created using Retool because—with a base app already built—replicating modules is quick, easy, and efficient for the team.

They can easily copy and paste across apps, and using versioning means they don’t have to worry about things breaking. Retool’s access control extends across apps so that they’re able to protect and restrict access to data.

Finally, using Retool allows product team members to tinker without needing too much engineering support. This lets them build upon their Retool use cases, like making updates to the Retool apps when processes change, while engineering can focus on customer facing innovation.

“The confetti feature in Retool helps us celebrate when we complete a task, such as onboarding a creator, and it sums up how we feel about Retool: it provides us with the satisfaction of a job well done every time!” says Rohit.

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