March 19, 2010

John Ernsberger, left, and Jordy Leiser, both Class of 2006.

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By Tom Evelyn

LEWISBURG, Pa.  — When Jordy Leiser and John Ernsberger, both Class of '06, were forming a new company to look at online customer service, they turned to their fellow Bucknellians for help.

With the support of LendingTree.com founder Doug Lebda, Class of '92, and the analysis expertise of Nicole Falcaro, Class of '09, STELLAService formally launched this week as the first completely independent customer service ratings agency for e-commerce.

STELLAService anonymously collected tens of thousands of data points across hundreds of customer service metrics for the country's 150 largest Internet retailers. The resulting STELLA Ratings, which were released Wednesday and can be found on the company's website, will help consumers make more informed online purchasing decisions and assist companies with learning more about their competitors.

Roommates at Bucknell
Co-founders Leiser and Ernsberger, who were roommates at Bucknell University, returned to Lewisburg in April 2009 to concentrate their efforts on building STELLAService while working on other entrepreneurial initiatives for the Office of the President.

"We knew there were bright minds and abundant resources on Bucknell's campus, but we had no idea how supportive the Bucknell community would really be," said Leiser, who serves as STELLAService's chief executive officer. Ernsberger is the chief operating officer. "We were thrilled to have over a dozen Bucknellians, representing students and faculty from the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Engineering, formally contributing to the goal of making STELLAService a success."

They recruited Falcaro, who majored in mathematics and Spanish at Bucknell, to be a senior analyst for the company. Lebda, who is now chairman and CEO of Tree.com, signed on as an adviser and financial supporter. || View Nicole Falcaro's student biography video.

Bucknellian-driven enterprise
"With advisers, programmers, analysts and even investors coming from Bucknell, STELLAService has truly become a Bucknellian-driven enterprise, which makes it that much more fun and meaningful to us as its co-founders," said Ernsberger, who studied management and Spanish at Bucknell. Leiser majored in economics and political science.

Ernsberger and Leiser brought the entrepreneurial spirit behind their work building STELLAService to initiatives on campus, too. Over the summer and fall, they helped Bucknell create the business plan for the Bucknell Innovation Center and worked on plans for related initiatives, including the Hatchery and its Entrepreneur-in-Residence.

The Bucknell Innovation Center, a business incubator and accelerator, will draw on University resources to support new businesses connected to the Greater Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Zone, a program that leverages University resources to support business development in certain areas. The Hatchery will be an affinity house for students interested in entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, innovation, marketing and design and will include an Entrepreneur-in-Residence who will mentor the students.

Entrepreneurial spirit
The same entrepreneurial spirit motivated Leiser and Ernsberger to develop STELLAService, according to a company news release.

While STELLAService has plans for a number of innovative initiatives, Leiser said, the support the company has received from a number Bucknellians has been — and will continue to be — a driver for its success.

"We would have never been able to create STELLAService if it were not for the overwhelmingly supportive Bucknell community," Leiser said. "From discussions around our business model with professors to hiring students for short-term internships to even pitching investors and other alumni on the merits of STELLAService, we are the true beneficiaries of what makes Bucknell such a special place — its great people."

Contact: Division of Communications

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