Angies List: Honesty and Transparency

Written by Phineas Upham

Angie’s List actually got its start before Craigslist. It was founded in 1995 by Angie Hicks and William S. Oesterle. Hicks got inspiration for the site when she was searching for a contractor to work on a project for her. She needed the work done for her boss, who was a venture capitalist, and she found it difficult at the time to find reliable help without making a lot of phone calls and hand sorting through data.

Oesterle encouraged her to start a website called “Angie’s List” after she relocated to Columbus that was based on those ideas. Her initial site was focused exclusively on lawn care services, cataloguing providers in the local area and helping to provide reviews from honest members.

With very little capital, Hicks was able to get 1,000 new members to join her site and contribute reviews. She used her connection to Oesterle to get at high profile investors where she could pitch her plan and raise money. She moved her database entirely to the Internet by 1999, and was steadily growing both her customer base and professional relationships. During this time, Angie’s List expanded to include healthcare providers and auto repair technicians.

Angie’s List has grown to include more than 70,000 members since then, but it has never had a profitable year. It remains a valuable resource for the Web and its citizens, but there has been some criticism over the site’s objectivity. Angie’s List is on the NASDAQ, where its shares opened at $13.

Phineas Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phineas on his Phineas Upham website

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