Derrick Martins

Q&A: Five Questions with Derek Steer, Co-founder/CEO at Mode Analytics Inc.


Q: states “Mode connects the world’s data and the people who analyze it”. For readers who are not yet familiar with your product, can you describe it?  What capabilities does it provide and who are its intended users?
A: Mode is a collaborative analytics platform that helps data analysts and data scientists analyze, visualize, and share data. Analysts at fast-growing, data-driven companies use Mode to perform and distribute ad-hoc analysis, build data tools for other departments, and measure key business metrics. Every Mode project starts with a SQL query, which provides analysts the flexibility they need to answer complex business questions. You write your query in Mode, like you would with any other SQL editor. Your database executes the query, then sends the results back to Mode where you can turn the data into a robust report to share with others. With queries stored in one place, right alongside visualizations and raw data, analysts can avoid duplicative work, and can use previous projects from colleagues as a jumping off point for new analysis.

We also host a public data warehouse for open data analysis. In it, we host datasets for SQL School, a free, interactive tutorial, written for anyone looking to learn SQL using real data. We also use it to effectively open-source some of our own reports — The Mode Playbook.  The idea behind the Mode Playbook is to support cross-company collaboration by sharing best practices around common explorations like retention and user behavior.

Q: Founded in 2013, Mode Analytics is still a fairly young company. How did it come about?
A: My two co-founders and I were all on the Analytics team at Yammer, a company acquired by Microsoft in 2012. We had worked on internal tools to streamline data sharing and increase the effectiveness of other teams like sales and marketing by empowering them with their own data tools. The San Francisco tech scene is small, and over time we learned that many other leading tech companies–think Uber, Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb–had built similar internal tools. We started Mode to provide up-and-coming companies time-saving analysis tools, while helping them avoid the significant engineering costs associated with building and maintaining their own internal tools. What we’ve learned since we launched publicly in mid-2014 is that Mode’s platform is helpful for analytics teams regardless of industry, location, or company size.

Q: What are the top three benefits a company can expect when adopting Mode Analytics?
A: 1 – More time spent doing cutting-edge work. With Mode, analysts find that they spend far less time rewriting the same queries. Also, by enabling business users to re-run common queries without touching code, analysts save even more time. This new-found time can be devoted to answering more complex or novel questions that can provide much more return to businesses.
2 – More collaboration between analysts and the rest of the business. With a centralized platform for analysis, analysts can more easily share insights with non-technical folks. In turn, with more access to more data, business users are exposed to more data more often, which inspires greater use of data in their daily work.
3 – More money saved. Mode is a lightweight alternative to expensive, antiquated BI tools. And, for companies considering developing their own internal tools, Mode is much more cost-effective.

Q: In addition to storage and search capabilities, I understand Mode Analytics also empowers users to create Data Visualizations. What DataViz capabilities does Mode provide?
A: When it comes to DataViz you can get as fancy as you like. If you just need a bar, line, or scatter plot, you can use our built-in charting functionality. For custom, interactive visualizations, you can write your own HTML, CSS, and Javascript using the Report Builder. For some examples, check out the Mode Playbook.

Q: What does the future hold for Mode Analytics?
A: Mode is rapidly expanding its team and its customer base. We’re investing significant engineering resources in building more functionality into the product. As we work with more–and more technical–analytics teams, we’re expanding the platform to support R and Python. This will help analysts organize even more of their workflow in one place, and make it easier to make insights more transparent to their non-technical colleagues.

derek_headshotAbout Derek Steer: Derek Steer is the CEO of Mode, a startup enabling analysts and data scientists to share and discover work. With Mode, analysts are more productive and connected, both publicly within the data community and privately within their organizations. Before co-founding Mode in 2013, Derek was an early member of Yammer’s Analytics team, where he led sales and monetization analytics. Derek has also worked in antitrust economics and on the monetization analytics team at Facebook.


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