The company making life easy for AI teams

Qwak founders Yuval Fernbach, Lior Penso, Ran Romano, Alon Lev  credit: Qwak
Qwak founders Yuval Fernbach, Lior Penso, Ran Romano, Alon Lev credit: Qwak

Four entrepreneurs realized that enterprises find it hard to implement AI, and founded Qwak to provide an end-to-end solution.

Israeli start-up Qwak’s logo is, naturally, a rubber duck. Regarding the name’s origin, the company states that "a duck is the only creature that knows how to fly, walk, swim, and dive underwater, and our platform allows AI teams to do it all, a very wide range of operations that usually require different products."

Qwak offers a technology that enables companies to create, implement, operate, and manage artificial intelligence applications. The company’s platform aims to reduce the amount of infrastructure work required to develop machine learning models, allowing the development and data science teams to focus on their core work. "Our product philosophy is very broad," Qwak states. "We help companies implement machine learning models. We basically want to provide an end-to-end solution for development teams and data science teams, and our goal is to help make models accessible to them."

According to Qwak, developing the infrastructures required to implement such artificial intelligence models can create time-consuming challenges, and although many companies do establish dedicated data teams, these investments generally do not bear fruit. Another problem Qwak is trying to solve is the often sub-optimal communication between the development and data science teams, which is reflected in the work between them. The company's technology eliminates this dependency, explains Qwak, thus optimizing and accelerating each team’s work, and enabling an orderly work environment, even after the implementation of the machine learning models.

"We founded the company out of personal need"

Qwak’s four founders all come with employment histories at big tech companies: CEO Alon Lev, formerly VP Data at Payoneer; CTO Yuval Fernbach, previously of Amazon Web Services (AWS); COO Lior Penso, whose resume includes work at ironSource as well as at AWS; and Ran Romano from Wix.

Lev: "I left my job at Payoneer during the first Covid wave, and persuaded Yuval, who was my IDF commander, to leave Amazon, where he was leading artificial intelligence in Europe and Israel. He brought Lior, who was also an Amazon employee. During the ideation process, the stage of trying to obtain feedback from the market about the founders’ idea, and of strengthening the theory on which the company will be built, we met Ran, who led the same area at Wix, and persuaded him to join."

Their employment experiences fueled their need of the four to found Qwak. "We founded the company out of a personal need. We all have experience and backgrounds in machine learning and artificial intelligence. We’ve worked with the biggest companies in the industry, both in Israel and abroad, and we’ve seen dozens, and even hundreds, of organizations that talk a lot about machine learning, models and decision-making support, but there’s a significant gap between that and implementation. It turns out that smart models aren’t being implemented, and as a result never reach customers, and this is because the companies don’t have the appropriate human or product infrastructure to support implementation. We want to bridge this gap."

The four founded the company in 2021, and today it has a staff of 40. To date, Qwak has raised $27 million. The most recent funding round was announced in March of last year, when it raised $12 million, led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Previous investors also participated in the same round, including Leaders Fund, StageOne Ventures and Amiti.

Former employer Amazon among the competition

The company is riding the hottest wave of the past year: artificial intelligence. Qwak says that despite the hype pushing their product strongly, they try to stay focused. "You have to be attentive, understand what's happening in the market. Even if we’re on-trend right now, that doesn't mean we shouldn't prepare intelligently for the future. When we founded the company, the market was in a different state, but we didn't go on hiring sprees, and that worked in our favor."

Qwak’s competition includes huge companies offering similar products, such as Amazon, Sagemaker, Vertex AI, and Databricks. Qwak believes that its uniqueness comes from "Looking at the customer's problem and not at the specific technological challenge. In the end, there’s a collection of challenges, but what we’re really interested in is helping companies generate benefit for their business through artificial intelligence. The goal of the technology is to generate commercial value of one kind or another for companies."

Qwak took second place in the "Globes" Most Promising Startups of 2024 rankings.  

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on April 25, 2024.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2024.

Qwak founders Yuval Fernbach, Lior Penso, Ran Romano, Alon Lev  credit: Qwak
Qwak founders Yuval Fernbach, Lior Penso, Ran Romano, Alon Lev credit: Qwak
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