Andrew Drinkwater

June 20, 2016. Eight years ago today, Patrick Lougheed and I announced the start of Plaid Analytics. It’s been a heck of an adventure, and we’re just getting started.

        Announcing Plaid

Today, Plaid Analytics empowers Strategic Enrolment Management with enrolment & tuition forecasting, automated data pipelines, and data governance to ensure your staff can access decision support data accurately and securely.

We make industry leading products in Plaid Forecast and Plaid Govern.

Plaid Forecast is a scenario-based enrolment forecasting platform that allows you to create, compare, and share scenarios quickly and easily on the web with no downloads required. This allows you to create compelling multi-year enrolment plans that are grounded in evidence.

Plaid Govern is a web-based metadata management tool supporting your data governance efforts, especially around ensuring data definitions and lineage are transparent and accessible to your stakeholders.

Back in 2016, we launched at the Association of Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada (ARUCC) and are ever grateful for the registrars and others who supported us since. If you’re at the conference this week, please tell everyone we say hi!

This year, we welcomed our first customers onto Plaid Forecast. We couldn’t be more excited to partner with you to build the best enrolment planning tools on the planet.

In these 8 years, we’ve worked on 183 projects, with 48 unique clients in higher education. A point of pride for us is to make sure our clients are skilled and have the confidence to continue the work in the future. Many consultants brag that 90% of their customers came back for another project. We’re really proud that many of our projects got turned over to our partner universities and colleges, they continue to run daily, and that internal teams have expanded them and solved issues. It speaks to our true desire to partner and empower, and we’re proud that people have turned to use for second projects when there is a new need that has emerged.

Speaking of supporters, we’ve had the privilege to work with a several universities and colleges across North America. Here’s a few recent highlights, in their own words:

We contracted Plaid to build us a predictive retention model, to let us prioritize outreach to our entering students most at risk of not retaining at the University of Regina. Plaid proved to be both highly qualified and an absolute pleasure to work with. Their experience with such models, in a Canadian context, allowed in depth discussion of what data would be most robust for our purpose. And their willingness and ability to explain the completed model to us was simply outstanding. For us Plaid hit the ‘trifecta’ of on time, on budget, and a very high quality end product.

Keith Fortowsky | Director of Institutional Research | University of Regina (Canada)

Throughout several months, Plaid Analytics worked closely with us to create a customized training to meet our specific needs, ensuring a highly effective and relevant learning experience.

The collective expertise of Pat, Clara, and Ahmad was a significant factor in the success of these sessions. Their ability to convey complex concepts with clarity and engage our team in interactive learning was impressive. Their passion for data visualization and enthusiasm for teaching were infectious and have left a lasting impact on us.

Thanks to the training provided by Plaid Analytics, our team is now better equipped to utilize the full capabilities of Tableau and Power BI, enhancing our data engagement and educational analysis. We highly recommend Plaid Analytics for their exceptional training services and their dedication to customer satisfaction.

Decision Support | Oregon State University (United States)

We have recently worked with Andrew and Pat to build a new data warehouse, supporting the delivery of customized reporting and insights about our students at the college. We are grateful for their expertise in this area, and relied heavily on their guidance to set up the complex back end systems, optimized to facilitate the new Loyalist Insights Power BI portal we’ve created to support a new self-serve reporting environment. We were starting at the ground level and Pat was able to walk us through all the necessary steps in a patient and concise manner, even as we asked some of the most basic questions. I highly recommend Plaid to anyone seeking to improve their data driven decision making capacity – no matter what state your data is in – Plaid will have the solution for your needs!

Melissa Fritz | Director – Institutional Research | Loyalist College (Canada)

Over the years, we’ve had the privilege of working with an amazing team. Our accomplishments in this time have been possible thanks to their diligence, critical thinking, and outstanding innovations.

Our current team includes:

  • Clara Yeung, product manager. Clara ensures that we build the right features in the way our clients intended them, helps keep us all on track, and has helped us up our professionalism in ways I’m not sure Pat and I would have figured out on our own. As a bonus, she’s a talented data engineer and has helped us create data structures that make reporting and analytics quick and easy for our customers.
  • Melinda Roy, senior analyst. Melinda helps ensure that we build compelling data products, design for accessibility, and incorporate story into our work. A talented writer, Melinda has taken the lead on several blog post series focused on Strategic Enrolment Management and Advising.
  • Mika Sohma, data analyst. Mika helps us create visualizations and has also helped build workflows that modernize government reporting processes.
  • Kourosh Parsee, full stack developer. Kourosh has designed the full web application for Plaid Forecast, making it easy to use and compelling.
  • Pat Lougheed, chief solutions officer. Pat makes data magic possible. He’s the brains behind turning Plaid Forecast from an idea into a reality, and designs scalable and intuitive data structures for analytics and reporting.
  • Andrew Drinkwater, president. I work primarily on company vision and strategy, business development, and working with our clients to ensure their success. Oh and I still love data architecture, so find myself working there sometimes too :)

We also have several talented alumni who have gone on to new careers. We’re grateful they joined for their journey.

  • Alice Zhang: user interface
  • Anya Goldman: research and writing
  • Bhavya Anand: business intelligence and marketing
  • Dorothy Paukste: project management
  • Katrina Bailey: project administration
  • Lynne Jamieson: change management, project management, and research

Our families also deserve huge credit for supporting us on this journey. Through all the ups and downs, you’ve been there. You see our passion for this space and why we want to make a difference. You pick us up on those tough days. You motivate us to do better each and every moment. Thank you.

Some highlights for me, personally:

  • Turning our vision of Plaid Forecast into a reality and having real colleges, polytechnics, and universities use it as an integral part of their strategic enrolment management practice.
  • Adapting Plaid Forecast from institution so we could make future enrolment projections for every institution in Canada following the change in international study permits in early 2024.
  • Expanding our business into the United States, working with a California Community College.
  • Having a Dean and a VP say to a crowd of their peers that they can make better decisions to support their students because of the data products and insights Plaid provides.
  • When an IR Director called us their old married couple consultants (in part because we could finish each other’s sentences… and occasionally bicker :) ).

If you’ve been part of our journey, whether as a client, a partner, a supporter, or engaged with us in any way – please know what a difference you have made, and just how much we appreciate it. Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart, and knowing our higher education community is there to try to improve the learner experience, just as we are, makes the path so much brighter.

If you’ve worked with us in the past, it would mean the world to us if you’d be willing to connect us with someone who might learning something new in a conversation with us.

If we haven’t had the privilege of connecting, how about now? With so many changes in higher education this year, it would be wonderful to learn more about what you’re up to and whether we could help you be the hero.

Do you have any memories of working with Plaid? Let me know in the comments or reach out directly. It would be lovely to hear from you.

Andrew Drinkwater

Co-Founder, Plaid Analytics