StellaService, which rates the customer service of online businesses, has raised $2 million in early stage funding, led by institutional investors Battery Ventures and DFJ Gotham Ventures.

This story first appeared in the March 21, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The funds will be used primarily for marketing and research and development. Last year the company evaluated 400 firms, and plans to expand that to rate several thousand online retailers this year, according to Jordy Leiser, Stella’s co-founder and chief executive officer. In addition, the company is relaunching its Web site today with new tools and features.

Included in the round of funding were RRE Ventures and Consigliere on the institutional side. Angel investors include Lending Tree ceo Doug Lebda; Mark Wachen, managing director of start-up accelerator DreamIt Venture, and ICC/Decision Services president and ceo David Rich, among others.

The firm was founded in 2009. E-commerce sites such as and feature the Stella seal of approval. Stella also has a partnership with ICC, the specialist in mystery shopping programs, in which the two share methodology and data research for benchmarking of customer service performance for the online and brick-and-mortar channels.

“StellaService is in the perfect spot to capitalize on the tremendous growth in e-commerce and an ever-growing need, particularly online, to buy from a trusted source. Its model is unique because the ‘Stella seal of approval,’ when deservedly awarded, gives consumers the confidence to shop at certain sites and return,” said Daniel Schultz, co-founder and managing director of DFJ Gotham Ventures.

“With this funding, StellaService can play a critical role in building transparency for online shoppers and shine light on those online stores that truly employ best practices when it comes to the overall customer experience,” said Leiser.

The firm’s staff researchers buy products online and then rate the Web sites on ease of navigation, shipping, return experiences and customer support. As part of the stress test, orders from each site are placed on a regular basis and at different times of the day.

“There are 300 unique components,” said Leiser on the metrics used to rate the sites.

There are three tiers in the ratings system: elite, excellent and approved. Those earning elite or excellent ratings are eligible to display the Stella seal of approval on their sites.

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