UW spin out Qazzow receives seed investment from W Fund

By Clare LaFond

UW start-up Qazzow has secured $500,000 in seed investment from the W Fund, an early stage venture fund focused on leveraging Washington’s research strength to launch new businesses.

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Photo of Andrew Ko and Jacob Wobbrock of Qazzow, an e-commerce website service. Photo by Conrado Tapado.

Andrew Ko and Jacob Wobbrock work on Qazzow, an e-commerce website service.

Qazzow, a spin-out from the UW’s Information School, has created a breakthrough service that significantly improves the consumer experience with websites and web applications. The company is currently piloting with a number of online businesses and is already helping companies like Ben Bridge Jeweler, PetHub, and Yapta increase online sales. The Qazzow service enables these and other businesses to more easily capture and answer the questions their visitors have while using their websites on desktop or mobile platforms. The W Fund investment will allow Qazzow to complete development of and fully launch the service.

“Qazzow had our attention from our first meeting with its experienced founders—a research team out of the UW Information School that is just exceptional—who are recognized leaders in an important field,” said Linden Rhoads, C4C Vice Provost of Commercialization and General Manager of the W Fund. “The W Fund appreciates this software spin-out’s focused and validated opportunity to sell into a large, established market, is impressed with the compelling solution Qazzow has developed, and is confident in Qazzow’s proven team.”

“This is an important milestone for the Qazzow team and we are excited to put these funds to work to bring the Qazzow solution to even more customers,” said Dr. Jake Wobbrock, co-founder and CEO of Qazzow. “The W Fund is a great partner for us and their experience working with research-driven, early stage companies is hugely valuable.”

According to research by Genesys, U.S. businesses lose $83 billion in sales each year because consumers can’t get the answers they need to questions that arise while shopping or using online services. Qazzow’s patent-pending, disruptive Q&A technology addresses this need by offering fast, concise answers at the point of customer action on any device. Qazzow offers a superior consumer experience that reduces abandonment rates and helps online businesses to:

  • Drive increased revenue for e-commerce sites by increasing user engagement, easing frustration, and enabling clear cross-sell opportunities;
  • Reduce customer support costs by answering customers’ questions at the time and place they have them, deflecting costly escalations to phone, live chat, or email support;
  • Gain valuable insights through powerful analytics that help companies better understand customer behaviors and improve the online customer experience.

These tangible benefits are easy to realize, requiring only a single line of code to be added to each web page. The answers provided by the Qazzow solution are not hard-coded into each page—the answers are dynamically retrieved based on Qazzow’s awareness of the specific item or part of the page the customer is having trouble with.

“We’ve been very impressed with the impact Qazzow has had on converting prospects to customers on our website and in giving us new insights on what our visitors are thinking as they shop,” said Marc Bridge, Vice President of Marketing at Ben Bridge Jeweler.

Qazzow was started by Dr. Wobbrock and co-founders Dr. Andy Ko and Dr. Parmit Chilana. All three co-founders are award-winning researchers in the field of human-computer interaction, which blends computer science, design, and human factors.

About Qazzow

Qazzow is revolutionizing the online experience of websites and web applications. The company’s innovative “answer layer” offers fast, concise answers at the point of customer action, driving increased sales, reducing support costs, and yielding valuable insights to inform site improvements. Qazzow is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, and more information can be found at www.qazzow.com.

About the W Fund

The W Fund is a participating program of the Washington Small Business Credit Initiative.

As an early-stage venture fund, it aims to invest approximately $20 million over the next four years in promising start-ups spinning out of the University of Washington and other research institutions across the state. The Fund demonstrates the commitment of the region’s business leaders and investment community to leverage Washington’s research strength to drive the state’s innovation economy by spurring the creation of jobs and tax revenue, and attracting investment capital into Washington. www.thewfund.com


Jake Wobbrock
Qazzow, Inc.

Chris Igielski
COO, The W Fund, LP