Meet the Company Using Behavioral Intelligence to Reduce Ghosting

Mainstay recently rebranded and expanded from higher ed into the red-hot HR tech market.
Written by Eva Roethler
December 13, 2021Updated: December 14, 2021

A few years ago, Ben Cockerell was dropping his daughter off at preschool when he was blindsided by an unexpected, perhaps career-changing revelation. 

The preschool had weekly learning themes and that week’s topic was jobs. This led his daughter to innocently ask her dad what his job was, unwittingly causing an epiphany from her father as he responded. He realized that while he liked his answer, he wasn’t sure he loved it. 

After some reflection, Cockerell found his work lacked a strong mission to get behind. So he embarked on a quest for work he connected with.

Enter Mainstay

“The company states it is dedicated to creating an environment of personal and professional growth, joy, and inclusivity. This resonates with me, especially around inclusivity,” said Cockerell.

After making some career moves, Cockerell is now the senior vice president of marketing at the student engagement platform. When he joined, the company was known as AdmitHub, which originated as a higher education admissions assistant with the mission to help people take the next step toward more meaningful lives.

In June 2021, the company rebranded to Mainstay and expanded into the hot market of HR tech, serving to further its mission to support users through important life changes. We turned to Cockerell for insight into the company and the motives behind these big moves.


Describe the mission and product at Mainstay. What is unique about it?

Our mission is to support people’s lifelong learning journeys — whether they’re preparing for college, making the most of their time while enrolled, testing their first forays into employment or looking to enhance their skills with additional work-related coursework. These are all among our growing set of use cases. 

Our technology solution is a student engagement platform that uses AI to proactively encourage, nudge and remind users, as well as accurately answering their questions in a reactive way. This helps people take the next steps while also elevating institution- or business-side operational roles by eliminating the need to respond to frequently asked questions. Our innovation is around how we get people to take those needed next steps. It’s a framework we call behavioral intelligence, and it’s what enables us to help our partners transcend the common limitations of interacting with chatbots. 

HR tech has recently exploded as employers navigate new workforce challenges. What prompted your company’s expansion from higher ed into this new field?

First, it’s a natural extension of our mission, which is to support the next step toward a more meaningful life. We began solving the problem of summer melt, which is when a student has enrolled at a school but doesn’t show up for the fall semester — it is the higher ed equivalent of ghosting. We then extended further into the student lifecycle, from selecting a college and completing the necessary administrative tasks to staying enrolled and on the course of matriculation to being active and engaged alums. The next step for us was what is often the next step for them: joining the workforce.

It’s a natural extension of our mission, which is to support the next step toward a more meaningful life.”


Second, we kept hearing from employers that there’s an immediate need to engage workers earlier in their employee journey and that ghosting has been a real operational challenge. Since then, the phenomenon of worker shortages has only accelerated.

So connecting the ways we’ve helped learners with the ways we initially helped universities, we thought our technology and behavioral intelligence model could help bridge the gap for both candidates and companies. 

What are some of the challenges of establishing the brand in a competitive new market? 

One challenge as we expand into the workforce market is that we need to find the right ways to build that sense of community that has served us, and our clients, so well in higher ed. Institutions of higher learning have been quick to join our advocacy program, which demonstrates that they see that the proof is in the pudding. We need to ensure that’s the case for employers, too.

What makes you excited about this rebrand? 

It’s true to who we are today, but it pushes us to be more. It opens the aperture for us to speak to new people, and to solve new problems outside of just higher education and admissions. But it also challenges us to do just that. 

Technology is better, and less biased, when a diverse team builds, markets and maintains it. Our technology solution and behavioral intelligence methodologies have shown an increased impact on first-generation and historically resilient student populations. 

Technology is better, and less biased, when a diverse team builds, markets and maintains it.” 



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