Spoon University is an online food publication powered by over 900 college student contributors at 35 campuses across the country. Our Web Development Immersive graduate and co-founder of Spoon, Sarah Adler, built an internal training tool to help scale their network of contributors efficiently. We caught up with Sarah to hear about how this feature was created, and more importantly, how it’s been able to help her company succeed.
When was Spoon founded and why?
We founded Spoon when we were in undergrad at Northwestern. We were moving off campus and trying to cook for the first time but everything out there (resources online, in magazines) felt like it wasn’t for us. We wanted to start a magazine with our friends and we threw parties, potlucks and guacamole-making competitions. By the time we graduated, the staff had about 100 students and people from other schools had asked us to help them start something similar. We decided to build out a network where we could help students across the country make the same thing at their own school quickly and easily.
What made you want to take our Web Development Immersive Course?
I took WDI because I knew that no matter what Mackenzie and I decided to do with the technical side of our company — if we hired another person to join us full-time, if we worked with freelancers or consultants, or if I tried to handle all of the coding myself—I would need to be able to have a macro understanding of how programming works. I would need to be able to understand the jargon and the big ideas. WDI definitely helped me with that.
Can you explain the project you worked on in WDI that you implemented in Spoon?
In my WDI course, I built the internal e-training tool that we use to expand to new campuses with Spoon University. Students can sign up with our orientation program and complete a personalized, gamified track for their position (complete with quizzes, videos and activities). The program covers everything from how to use WordPress, our style and tone, how to throw events for free and even how to lead your first staff meeting.
What was your biggest obstacle in creating this feature?
The orientation program that I built was different than a lot of what we built in the class because it wasn’t a standard CRUD app — it was much more content-centric. That meant that the routes were a little more challenging to keep organized. We also launched the app to 900 users, so any bugs were brought to our attention very quickly — which has pros and cons.
What was the payoff of implementing this feature?
Because of this system, we’re now able to expand to 5 campuses a month and manage the 900+ members of the staff with just our two person team. Instead of repeating the same process over and over again, we are refining the language and the tools to explain our process clearly and quickly, in a way that makes the information stick. We’re able to quickly iterate and refine our tools based on feedback from users, and then all of the future users benefit from that.