Angie Hicks is the co-founder and Chief Marking Officer of Angie’s List – the customer review service she helped found in Columbus, Ohio. At Angie’s List, subscribers find services and submit non-anonymous reviews on everything from medical care to home fix-up.
Angie’s List has exploded since the mid-90′s when Hicks was going door-to-door to solicit business. Last year the company went public on the NASDAQ. Angie’s List has listings in more than 200 US cities (along with parts of Canada) and more than 1.5 million households pay roughly $45 a year to access the site, 100,000 of them in New York City alone.
Hicks tells Dixon the idea to create a national service for people to ”share information with one another, to find out who are the best providers in town” occurred after her co-founder had trouble locating help for home repairs. Surveying the landscape they found an Indianapolis-based company running a newsletter/call-in service that offered something along the lines of what they were seeking. They launched their own version and a year later acquired the company.
Hicks says the Internet is now “the driving force behind the service” but points out Angie’s List still sends out a magazine and fields calls, with Hicks personally answering some of those calls. Hicks credits the phone-in service as being particularly helpful to customers who need quick answers.
Reflecting upon lessons learned, Hicks mentions the strategic importance of rolling out early in big cities. Had Angie’s List not “danced around” opening in Chicago for example, Hicks says the company could have learned more, quicker.
Before wrapping, Hicks shares some advice her grandfather shared with her when she was debating joining the young startup. “He is like, Angie, what’s the difference between being 22 and looking for a job and being 23 and looking for a job? There’s nothing.”
Make sure to watch the entire interview for additional insights and be sure to check out past episodes of Founder Stories. Previous guests include the founders of Aereo, Kayak and TripAdvisor.