Tag Archives: Angie’s List

On Demand is New Focus for Some Home Service Providers

Competition in the home services leads space has been heating up – and so are the tensions. Just this week, Angie’s List has filed suit against Amazon, contending that Amazon Home Services has been egregiously signing up for the member’s- only service around the U.S., and grabbing proprietary service recommendations.

On Demand home services is something that several of the companies are hoping to differentiate themselves with. We saw it with HomeJoy at our LODE event a couple of weeks ago in San Francisco. Home Advisor has also been rolling out its Instant Booking on demand service.

Mizamin, an Israeli Startup with international ambitions, also hopes to get ahead with on demand home services. Its mobile app has gotten 200,000 downloads in Israel, mostly generated from a small social media ad campaign and word of mouth. CEO Yuval Aronov told us that providing home services on an on demand basis has some quirks to it. Many home pros resist keeping to real schedules and are eager to take jobs as they come up. On the other hand, certain types of jobs, such as pest control, need to be scheduled in advance.

Mizamin has built an App that enables multiple providers to receive queries in real time. When a plumbing assignment goes out to Mizamin’s roster of 40 plumbers in Tel Aviv, three-to-six usually answer, he says. The biggest channel for most plumbers have been SMS. “Some don’t use their smartphones professionally,” he says. “They are afraid to drop them in the toilet.”

Angie’s List Goes ‘Mobile First’

Angie’s List, which has recently seen a deterioration in its stock as investors have lost confidence in its ability to grow its premium subscription and ad model, has announced that it has gone Mobile First. The changeover is significant because the company, which has nearly three million users, has continued to support a wide variety of media. Many years after other companies went all digital, for instance, Angie’s has continued to provide personalized phone referrals to its well heeled (and older) home owner customer base.

The move to mobile first is accompanied by the launch of a new mobile app, which offers “concierge level” help for consumers seeking to hire the right service and medical professionals. It provides research for providers; shop for specific home improvement services; and “SnapFix” a project, automatically assigning service pros to projects based on specifications.

“We studied our members’ behavior and directly asked them what they want from us,” noted a company press release quoting founder Angie Hicks. “As a result, we’re not just connecting them to highly rated service companies through a swipe or a click, we’re stepping into the transaction, improving their experiences start to finish.”

A press note added that the new efforts are “symbolic of the corporate shift from just providing highly reliable information to getting in the middle of transactions to make the hiring process easier and the results better, faster.”

We’ll be diving deep into the future of Home Improvement services with local digital leaders from The Home Depot, Thumbtack and Serviz on Day 1 of the Leading in Local conference in San Francisco Dec. 3-5. You may register here.

Angie’s List Provides New Details in S1; 820,000 Members

Angie’s List issued an S1 this week as it seeks to raise $75 million from an IPO. The S1 is full of details about the 16 year-old service reviews company. Its massive, $60 million national ad campaign over the past 18 months, for instance, has produced a membership roster of 820,000 paying households in 170 U.S. markets.

The company, which earned $35.58 million in 2010, has also seen a shift of its revenue pie. While revenues were split 50/50 between membership fees and advertising in 2008, it has now shifted to 39 percent membership fees and 61 percent advertising. The company currently has 19,750 advertisers.

Additional opportunities come from the introduction of Angie’s List’s Big Deal, which has now been introduced in 27 cities and is available to members and non-members alike. More than 62,879 deals have been sold since its launch in June 2010.

Key to the company’s next stage is a successful introduction of new a la carte verticals such as Health and Wellness and Classic Cars, and increased user penetration in large markets such as New York and Los Angeles. The key is to maximize marketing dollars from its national ad campaigns, which receive 100 percent of its marketing budget.

Several major questions remain about the company.

1. Can it make money? Angie’s List has been outspending its revenue in its rapid push to gain scale via national advertising.

2. Can it compete against free services? Like Cable TV and newspapers, Angie’s List’s business model is based on a dual revenue stream of membership (“paid circulation”) and advertising. Customers will only continue to pay for the service if reviews are considered more accurate, more local and more numerous than competitors.

3. Can it go more local? As Angie’s List’s growth relies more on suburban and exurban areas, it will be challenged to provide more locally-oriented service providers. Its current metro-wide approach includes many service providers that are further than 50 miles away in some cases.

4. Can it market locally? Angie’s List is currently devoting 100 percent of its marketing dollars to national advertising. The effort treats the entire country as a single market, making it less efficient to reach smaller markets. If Angie’s List is to grow these markets, it is going to need to rely more on local media, social media and word of mouth.

5. Can it acquire and integrate companies? Angie’s List is mostly homegrown and remains a relatively straightforward operation that relies very lightly on innovative technologies. As the company seeks to add more features and grow overseas, however, it is likely to need to acquire various entitles (a la ServiceMagic). It remains to be seen how well it will integrate other operations.

A Full Report is being published next week for BIA/Kelsey Marketplaces clients.

ILM:10: Groupon, Angie’s List and Gannett Phoenix Discuss Deal a Day

In the wake of Groupon‘s rejection of Google’s reported $6 billion offer, Groupon VP of Business Development Sean Smyth told ILM:10 attendees that one positive aspect of the news coverage was the incredible exposure that Groupon received. “We had three million new email subscribers last week,” he said. “We normally get one million per week.”

Smyth, a media vet with prior stints at MetroMix, Gannett and Tribune Interactive, said that the headcount at Groupon is now up to 3,000 employees, with half of those in sales – both telemarketing and premise. Groupon covers 300 markets, with 165 of those in North America. It is currently running 650 deals a day, with 260 in North America.

“It is an absolutely amazing space to be in,” said Smyth. But it is also fast evolving well beyond simply offering two or three deals a day (and a banner ad) in emails. Currently, the company is focused on verticalizing and personalizing efforts, as well as developing specialized features for SMBs that would allow them to control deal flow, contacts and promotional creative. “We’re trying to find different ways to get deals in front of people,” says Smyth, noting recent affiliation deals made with Yahoo, eBay, Tribune Gannett and Media General. “We love having 40 million email addresses. But if you don’t get the right deal to the right person at the right time, it doesn’t mean squat.”

Speaking on the same “Deal a Day Superforum,” Angie’s List VP Mike Rutz said his company sees deals as a natural extension of its SMB advertising. “We have been offering coupons for 15 years,” he said. In fact, having a coupon is a requirement of being an advertising on Angie’s List.

With Angie’s List Big Deal, which launched six months ago, Angie’s List opens the deal beyond its member fire wall, but members gets a discount above and beyond the standard offer. It is a great acquisition tool for membership, and also provides enhanced value for members, says Rutz.

At the same time, it is a great retention tool for advertisers, and helps build out their profile with a horde of new reports. “Ninety-six percent who ran a Big Deal have stuck with us”, he says.

Gannett Phoenix’s Mike Coleman added that his company’s new DealChicken.com is also taking the newspaper in some new directions, having attracted 40,000 local users in its early months. On the merchant side, “it is a very different sales conversation with a merchant.

Indeed, Deal Chicken is only sold by a dedicated staff in the division, as well as by Gannett Local, the company’s new SEO/SEM arm. The core newspaper staff isn’t involved at all. “They already have too many products to sell,” he said.

The model seems to be a winner. “There is huge interest at other Gannett properties,” he said.

Avvo Adds Local Doctor Ratings

Avvo, the Seattle based vertical site that launched its Lawyer ratings service in 2007, has now added Doctor ratings, using the proceeds, in part, from a $10 million raise it did in March. In launching a doctors site, it goes head to head against Angie’s List, Everydayhealth.com and dozens of others that view doctor ratings and other medical practitioner information as unchartered territory.

Avvo Doctors, which works off a common platform with Lawyers, is launching with numerical ratings and profiles for 800,000 doctors in all 50 states, or 90 percent of all U.S. doctors. It also includes medical misconduct information for roughly 50 percent of doctors — a percentage it hopes to boost to 90 percent by Q1 2011 as state medical boards improve their reporting systems.

The site include 400 questions and answers from certified doctors. It expects the Q&A forum to grow at a faster rate than its legal counterpart, which receives over 50,000 contributions per month.

Avvo has also put together a medical advisory board that the former president of the American Medical Association, a chief surgeon at the University of Washington, and two doctors who run their own elective clinics on the east and west coasts.

“In the online marketing world, doctors look a lot like lawyers did before Avvo arrived,” notes CEO and Founder Mark Britton on the company blog. “Consumers are lost when trying to find a doctor, let alone trying to understand the doctor’s background and reputation. few doctors understand the art or science of marketing – especially online marketing. Doctors still spend over $500 million dollars annually in the Yellow Pages (yes, the yellow pages).”

Angie’s List Raises $22.5 Million; Sees IPO Within 18 Months

Angie’s List, the premium ratings and review service for home and medical services, has announced that it has raised $22.5 Million from institutional investors as it prepares for an IPO within 18 months. Investors in this round include some public funds managers, including Wasatch Funds. The company previously raised $48 million, making for a grand total of $70.5 million raised. Battery Ventures remains the lead investor.

The Indianapolis-based service charges members anywhere from $10 to $67 per year for access to its ratings and reviews. The service reports over one million members, which probably translates into at least half a million paid and trial accounts, since there are typically two members per account.

Current revenues are not disclosed. But in 2008, roughly half of Angie’s List’s $50 million in revenues had come from membership and set up fees. The other half had come from advertising from reviewed companies that are highly rated (“B” and above) as well as national companies, such as appliance makers and retailers. Advertising can be found on the website as well as in a printed, monthly magazine that is well read by members.

Angie’s List has grown its mission considerably in the past couple of years. It has raised its profile with aggressive television, radio and print advertising, and added medical reviews, which it has intended to eventually break out as a separate, paid service. It has also added national services, for categories such as custom car restoration – it takes its Indianapolis roots seriously– and recently unveiled The Angie’s List Big Deal, a group buying effort that is now in 30 local markets and will be in 50+ markets by year end.

The big question marks for Angie’s List are whether it can simultaneously sustain its growth in the face of free competitors, such as Yelp, ServiceMagic and others; get beyond its older, home owner demographic; successfully extend its service to the new categories, and others; and maintain its friendly, home-spun “community” image.

Thumbtack, a Service Leads Provider, Raises $1.2 Million

Thumbtack, one of the new breed of service lead companies such as Alikelist, Red Beacon, HelpHive and others seeking to push aside leaders such as ServiceMagic and Angie’s List (and the Yellow Pages), announced today it has raised $1.2 million, and now has raised a war-chest of $1.7 million altogether. The new angel round includes 11 angels, including well known Web leaders such as Jason Calacanis (WebBlogs), Joshua Schachter (Delicious), Scott Banister (PayPal), and Ariel Poler (i/Pro).

Site founder Marco Zappacosta says the funding will be used to expand Thumbtack’s eight person team, which is based in San Francisco. It will also be used to expand key features such as email marketing, appointment management and its “Personal Concierge” service.

Zappacosta tells us that the site has evolved considerably from its earliest days. It is now focused on simple tasks such as invoicing, record management and appointment management. “Payment solutions are really hard to pull off,” he says.

The company remains wedded, however, to its core concept of providing “deeper, richer” background on service providers rather than relying on licensed lists. It now has profiles on 40,000 service professionals in 11 markets, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C.