How WISE saved weeks of engineering time to support a growing community
Women hold just 20% of sales leadership positions —but WISE, a division of CloserIQ, wants to change that. In less than 5 years, WISE has built a community of 7000+ women and women-in-sales supporters and is helping to develop the next generation of female sales leaders through mentorship, networking, and learning events.
Cassie Yettru is the General Manager at WISE. Her team of three manages every part of the community: promotion, member experience, B2B partnerships, and all event programming.
In the early days, everything happened through Google Docs and spreadsheets. But as the community kept growing, the team decided it was time to invest in a full user-facing web portal. So in January, 2021, Cassie partnered with her CTO, Dan Zhou, and the engineering team to build a web portal that could support community members and partners.
With their portal in market, they’ve seen growing adoption; and as a result, a growing need for internal tools to manage day-to-day operations. Now, Cassie and team use a suite of Retool apps to manage users, partners, and events.
This is the story of why the CloserIQ engineering team chose Retool for internal tools and how the WISE team manages a thriving virtual community.
When deciding how to build internal tools for the new WISE portal, Dan wanted tools that would be friendly for Cassie’s team to use, that connected to their Firestore database, and that kept their options open for adding future logic and integrations.
The team first considered Flask-Admin. It was a familiar framework they had used for other internal tools, and it was an easy choice for building basic CRUD views. But they worried about how much time they’d have to spend on maintenance.
“While it was easy to get started and build basic CRUD views, as the business and operations became more complex, Flask-Admin required more customization than the original framework could support,” says Dan. “We're still building the WISE portal’s core features and adding to the data models, so we needed a solution that we can iterate more quickly.”
His team also considered GUI tools for Firestore, but they were less user-friendly for Cassie's team and would limit the business logic engineers could overlay.
Lastly, Dan and the team considered building from scratch, but that would have taken too much time and maintenance from the team.
“Having built custom admin interfaces before, we knew the tradeoffs of building your own admin tools versus buying. While building a tool from the ground up allows you to customize it exactly the way you want, it is also very time consuming to maintain or debug,” shares Dan. “Making changes also takes longer, as they have to go through a full development cycle to build and deploy.”
After learning more about Retool, the team decided that it was the right choice for this project. Retool had a native integration to Firestore, made building apps easy, created a user-friendly interface for Cassie, and could be customized like a homegrown app. Says Dan:
“Going with Retool was an easy decision and helped us cut down the time to launch from a few weeks to a few days.”
The first app the engineering team shipped was the WISE Users app, where the WISE team tracks all of their community members.
Every time a new person submits an application to join WISE, Cassie receives an automated email alert.
From there, she opens up the WISE Users app in Retool to manage the approval flow.
In just a few clicks, she is able to review each applicant—when they applied, what company they work for—and either accept or deny their application. Once a new member is accepted, an email is automatically triggered via Customer.io that helps the new member complete their onboarding in the WISE portal.
Cassie also pulls data from Retool into her analytics platform to build real-time reports that help grow the marketplace. For example, when she’s on the phone with a potential B2B partner, she uses a report to quickly check whether someone from the company is already a member.
There are two WISE partner plans available today: Team and Corporate. The Corporate plan is a highly-tailored experience that Cassie’s team helps facilitate. On the other hand, the Team plan was designed to help companies sign up through a fully self-serve experience.
The signup flow for the Team plan is similar to the member experience. Once a company applies online, their application is ready for review in Retool.
Cassie and team review the application in Retool, and once a company is approved, they are automatically charged via a Stripe integration. It all happens with no phone calls or email back and forth. Cassie adds, “Using Retool, we were able to launch a self-service option on the B2B side of things while still keeping the entire process streamlined.”
“Using Retool, we were able to launch a self-service option on the B2B side of things while still keeping the entire process streamlined.”
Beyond managing both sides of their community, the WISE team has also started managing networking events, they call them “Pods,” in Retool as well.
Users can find upcoming events and sign up to join them in the WISE portal. In the background, Cassie’s team is constantly planning and proposing new events.
The team now uses Retool to create an event backlog that Cassie can approve in just one click. Once approved, the event becomes visible in the WISE portal and members can start signing up immediately. The Retool app also includes one-click workflows for sending confirmation, reminder, cancellation, and post-event emails from Customer.io.
These apps are only possible because Retool has significantly shortened the time it takes to build better ways to work. “Retool has become an important part of our stack and gives us an option to build internal tools more quickly. In the past we had to weigh the cost of building a tool or choosing to delay it while engineering manually supported those cases,” shares Dan. “Now we can easily create solid tools and workflows from the start and have less restrictions due to resources.”
“Retool has become an important part of our stack and gives us an option to build internal tools more quickly”
With growing adoption, Cassie looks forward to continuing to double down on product-led community growth—and sees Retool as a critical piece to getting there.
“The technology stack that we’ve adopted, and Retool specifically, have helped make it possible to launch our WISE portal faster and get great feedback across the board,” says Cassie. “Retool has saved us a lot of time and allowed us to consolidate everything into one place.”
“Retool has saved us a lot of time and allowed us to consolidate everything into one place.”