Case Study

Red Clay

Simplified Design



"When you hire Pivotal Labs, not only do you get great developers, you also get a new framework for managing your team. To this day, we still follow Pivotal’s principles of agile development -- it keeps us focused and on track!"

Abigail Kiefer, Red Clay CEO


In its early years, Red Clay built its own web application that served as an early proof of concept for its first projects and customers. The impending arrival of a very large, enterprise customer within months meant Red Clay needed to develop a more scalable, self-service platform to address the new customer’s expected needs. With only one technical staff member - a CTO who specialized in front-end development - Red Clay did not have sufficient technical expertise in-house to meet this fast development timeline and build the product in Ruby on Rails. It engaged Pivotal to rebuild its web platform from the ground up.

Red Clay needed to build a web platform that would allow brands to go through a full design process: writing a brief, selecting designers, and iteratively collaborating on new product designs. It also needed Pivotal’s help to shift the product’s underlying technology from PHP to Ruby on Rails for future scalability, as well as to build out its own internal developer staff.


With limited resources and a tight timeline, Red Clay needed help revamping its collaborative web platform. In addition, it wanted to change the underlying technology from a PHP stack to Ruby on Rails with an emphasis on client-side Javascript. Furthermore, with limited experience using Ruby on Rails, Red Clay needed help hiring its own internal developers to continue scaling the product after Pivotal completed the foundation.

Pivotal started the development of the web platform for Red Clay from the ground up in Ruby. Pivotal also provided critical assistance with Red Clay’s hiring process, helping the company select two Ruby on Rails developers who could comfortably carry out new features after Pivotal finished laying the groundwork for the new platform.


Using Ruby on Rails with a Javascript backbone, Pivotal built a collaborative web platform from scratch that allowed clients to go through a full, multi-phased design process. With the new platform, clients could easily and seamlessly create projects, write briefs, review and select designers, and know that automated emails to sign up for projects or provide information about current projects would go to designers. For designers, the new platform gave them the power to apply to projects with just one click.

In addition to building the foundation for the new platform, Pivotal gave Red Clay tools to continue development after the project ended. It provided significant support with the hiring of two new Ruby on Rails developers. It also taught Red Clay the value of its agile development process - a management style Red Clay continues using to this day.


Pivotal effectively met the project deadline and goals, while assisting Red Clay with its staffing challenges. It also assisted Red Clay in building up its internal development capabilities so it could continue to develop the platform and lay the groundwork for continued growth and scalability. It also helped Red Clay adopt the Pivotal agile development process.

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