Kevin Rader: Where did the idea come from?
Angie Hicks: The idea for Angie’s List was Bill Oesterle’s idea, my co-founder. He was renovating a house in Columbus, Ohio, and was having trouble finding service companies – he actually had a bad experience with a heating and cooling company. He had been familiar with a little service that started in Carmel, Ind., in the mid-70s called Unified Neighbors and he was like, ‘Why isn’t there a service like that in other cities?’ and started looking around and low and behold there wasn’t. We started our own version of Unified Neighbors in Ohio and then a year later ended up acquiring Unified Neighbors.
KR: And you called it Angie’s List. So, where did Angie come from?
Angie: We actually called it Columbus Neighbors to start out with, and what we discovered was our members didn’t realize the list was dynamic. They thought the little newsletter we published was the list so they’d open it up each month and if there weren’t plumbers, they’d be like ‘Well, maybe next month.’ We wanted to rebrand it so we came up with The List, Jackie’s List – Jackie was the mother of one of our investors who was very well known in Columbus, and kind of represented what the list was really all about, and then there was me, who was the only employee at the time. For simplicity, we went with Angie.
KR: And ultimately moved it back from Columbus to here?
Angie: We did. In 1998 we moved back to Indianapolis to be closer to family and to be here in Indianapolis which at the time was our largest market.
KR: What does Angie’s List do now?
Angie: It’s interesting today because we started as a call-in service and a magazine which collects reviews on local service companies. It’s exactly what we do today but obviously the Internet is a big player in that process. Today, 90 percent of what we do happens over the web and honestly the online review space has turned out to be a very big space which is exciting. Sometimes people ask why we do things the way we do, and it’s because we predated Internet times. It can be a lot of fun to kind of roll forward and see how what appeared to be an older business model back in the day can turn into a very cutting edge business model.
KR: If you were looking at your list of who subscribes, is it more women than men?
Angie: It’s pretty much a mix. They tend to be homeowners because they’re people who are hiring plumbers and electricians and things like that.
KR: Those are the areas people look at?
Angie: They do. We cover home improvement, we cover pet care, auto repair and we even cover health care as well.
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