iSchool spin-out AnswerDash in GeekWire

The talent and tenacity of graduates and professors from the University of Washington was on full display Tuesday evening inside the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering.

The Seattle Tech Meetup held its second annual special free event at the UW campus and featured five startup founders who have connections to the university in some shape or form. A crowd of about 400 showed up to watch them briefly talk about their companies, all of which have raised substantial funding rounds.

“It’s great to see the vibrancy of Seattle’s tech startup community — and it’s great to have a ‘gathering of the tribe’ in our building,” said Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the UW.

Here’s a quick recap of the companies that presented:

Previously known as Qazzow, AnswerDash is a spin-out from the UW’s Information School. Led by UW professors Jake Wobbrock and Andy Ko, the company landed $2.4 million in series A financing this past December in a deal led by WRF Capital and Voyager Capital. AnswerDash has developed technology that provides shoppers with instant answers to questions on e-commerce Web sites. The idea is to improve efficiency for the user while lowering support costs for businesses. Learn more about AnswerDash here.

SNUPI Technologies is a UW spin-out led by serial entrepreneur Jeremy Jaech that sells a $299 device called Wally which is designed to detect leaks and moisture in homes. No batteries are needed for the device, with the system set to work continuously for 10 years. It does this by bypassing traditional Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, instead using the copper wiring in the walls of a home as an antenna. SNUPI scored scored $7.5 million in financing this past January and will use the fresh funds to support the development, production and sales of Wally. Total funding in the 2-year-old startup now stands at $9 million. Learn more about the company here.

Usermind is a relatively new Seattle-based startup that was founded this past May. The company, which raised $7.6 million in a Series A round led by Andreessen Horowitz, builds enterprise software solutions that help make business operations people more productive and efficient. Usermind was founded by CEO Michel Feaster and CTO Przemek Pardyak, both who bring a wealth of experience in enterprise software and startups. The co-founders first met a decade ago when Pardyak’s first startup, Performant, was acquired for $22.5 million by Mercury Interactive — the company where Feaster worked as a product manager. Learn more about Usermind here.

Led by UW computer science professor Carlos Guestrin, a leading data scientist and expert in machine learning, GraphLab helps large and small organizations make better sense of data. Mining social networking graphs, the startup makes sense of relationships between people, the products they buy or the activities they participate in. GraphLab builds off the initial research of an open source project that Guestrin, also the Amazon Professor of Machine Learning at the UW, helped start five years ago. The startup, which works out of Fluke Hall on the UW campus, this past May raised a $6.75 million in Series A funding from Madrona Venture Group — one of Seattle’s leading venture firms — and NEA — the Silicon Valley behemoth that’s best known around the Northwest as the primary backer of Tableau Software. Learn more about GraphLab here.

Qumulo is a Seattle-based data storage company trying to help companies deal with the “enormous explosion of data in the world.” The company, which raised $24.5 million back in November 2012, is still operating in stealth mode but now employs 55 people at its downtown Seattle offices.
Qumulo is led by Peter Godman, who started the company with fellow former Isilon System engineers and executives. The startup is backed by Highland Capital Partners, Madrona Venture Group and Valhalla Partners. Learn more about Qumulo here.

Story by Taylor Soper, GeekWire, April 16, 2014