Letter on the 10th Anniversary of Data Sciences

May 6, 2024

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It started with Sean and Tom meeting outside some event for the Liberal party of Canada; a grad student in genetics, and a serial entrepreneur with a Masters in Political Philosophy. 

“You know, we’re collecting a decent amount of data here, I bet we can optimize this stuff,” said Sean.

“Funny you should say that,” said Tom, “I was thinking the same thing, and I happen to know the riding president.”

Both, thinking: I don’t know why, but I have a good feeling about this.”

Fast forward a few years of successful dabbling, volunteering, and consuming many soup dumplings, the opportunity to deploy our combined approach presented itself. Help elect a premier, and help elect a new leader to the Liberal Party of Canada. This was something. We noticed things that nobody was talking about in those days. Members and Supporters who opened our emails, answered our surveys, and who we called on the phone were incrementally likelier to vote. Mathematically, a riding-weighted election produced disproportionately high returns in places where we had fewer members. We campaigned online in places nobody else gave a second thought. Efficiency, rigour, a disregard for conventional wisdom, and more soup dumplings. 

In the lead up to the 2015 Canadian election we decided to make it official, and after the election Data Sciences grew from 1 employee to 3. We added an Engineer, an Analyst, and by 2016 we had 5 employees and our first corporate client. By 2017 we had 10 employees and our first international client. We opened our office at 423 St. Nicolas in the Old Port of Montreal, hired our first Researcher, built our first political forecast model, and by 2018 we doubled in size for the third year in a row to 20 employees.

There were election wins, and election losses. By the start of 2020 we had worked in 10 different countries, expanded our client base into governments and e-commerce, and were well into production on some of our key products. Although 70% of our clients were no longer political, we still managed to help elect a handful of G7 leaders. 

Of course, COVID changed everything. As the world, and Data Sciences, transitioned to fully-remote work, we faced myriad new challenges. But we innovated, found new partners in the healthcare and charity nonprofit sectors who faced multiple fronts of increased demand and no in-person fundraising. We helped them rebuild and optimise their digital programs so they could continue doing their essential work, and we had to grow to meet the challenge.

Through 2021, amid double federal election wins in Canada and Norway, and up to today, we have continued to grow. 50 employees, including our first international hires, doing work in over 30 countries, participating in 11 national or provincial elections, and building out our product catalogue to fit the changing digital world.

Where to next?

The social, and technological landscape of Canada and the world have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. The rise and fall and rise of social media. The serial rebranding of anything technical from statistics, to analytics, Big Data, data science and artificial intelligence. What does the next pivot look like?

But there are a few things we know will never change, and that’s why we feel confident in the future of DS:

  • No matter how good the tools or models get, there will always be hard problems requiring specialised skills surrounding the use of data. We are here to help organizations solve those problems.
  • No matter how much DS changes, we will always build solutions using an evidence-based, defendable approach. We will never sell a product we don’t believe in. 
  • No matter how big DS gets, we will always believe in the campsite rule: always leave things better than you found them.

Personally, DS is more than a company with a goal to help its clients. DS has been a place where smart and talented people can come together to have fun solving problems. It’s a place founded by friends, who want to work together with friends, and with friends of friends.

Practically, we have some ideas on how to make this happen. We will continue to invest in our people, and our products. We will accelerate our expansion domestically and internationally, scaling our model, and developing products that actually help our clients. We will use AI tools, and we will help our clients make sense of their place in this fourth industrial revolution.

On this, our ten year anniversary, we will be announcing big steps towards an ambitious growth plan for the next 10 years. So pay careful attention in the coming days and months.

Whatever our initial vision for DS, Sean and I know that the success of DS lies primarily in the people who have supported us these many years and that continue to support us every day. Our friends, our family, our customers, our partners and especially our staff. None of this would have been possible without the leadership of our President, Sean Hutchison, our passionate and dedicated VPs and our team of curious and passionate experts and, of course, without the soup dumplings. 

Thank you all for your support.

Tom and Sean