Tag Archives: Angie’s List

Angie’s List Adds First ‘National’ Vertical: Classic & Custom Cars

Following the success of eBay Motors with special classic and custom car restoration verticals, other sites have pitched their own tents to get a piece of the $2 billion annual business, including AutoTrader and The New York Times. Now comes Angie’s List.

Angie’s List, based in Indianapolis and boasting over one million members, actually has some street cred in the auto world by sponsoring the Indy 500. It says the classic/custom car restoration category is worth $2 billion a year. “Custom and classic car owners will go to the ends of the Earth to find the one person who can bring their baby back. We’re going to make that trip easier,” says company namesake Angie Hicks, in a press release.

What is especially unique about the new Angie’s List service is that it isn’t locally oriented. While the site has some national and regional categories, such as bathtub restoration, Classic and custom car restoration is Angie’s first full scale national vertical. It is also the company’s second standalone vertical, following Health, which launched in March and now has 200 categories.

“There are tons of forums, classified ads everywhere you look, and lots of talk in garages around the country about individual specialists and companies that focus on restoring vintage vehicles,” said Hicks. “We’re going to do what we do best and gather that great consumer experience at a site where anyone can easily find just the person they need for the specialty work they need done.”

HelpHive, a Referral Site, Seeks to Rope in SMBs with Free Video


Smelling blood at the presumed decline of Yellow Pages, a number of sites have launched that provide leads to local service SMBs. You got Angie’s List on the membership side. And ServiceMagic, Tree.com’s DoneRight, Sears’ ServiceLive and a number of regional companies (i.e. RedBeacon, Fixr, LocalPrice) using some type of leads model.

Now add HelpHive. Launched this summer in Seattle by four tech vets, HelpHive builds on licensed listings from iBegin to provide a “hand curated” directory of SMBs in 50 categories. Its business model is to charge SMBs an annual fee of $199 for a variety of “Pro” level services (introductory priced at $99) and five percent of the total job value. When leads don’t result in jobs, the service takes a $5 fee from the SMB.

It is interesting to note that the commission is half of ServiceLive’s 10 percent fee. Also in contrast to ServiceLive, all payments are done on an honor system. ServiceLive has a complex system – perhaps necessary — of collecting payments and distributing funds only after consumers are satisfied

HelpHive’s Pro service has a number of distinctive features, most notably one year of a basic, free TurnHere video, including a site visit by a videographer, and a 60 second clip. As with many other video offers, however, the video is not portable to other sites.

Citysearch had also provided introductory free video at one point. But those contracts were many times more expensive than what HelpHive is charging.

Co-Founder Karim Meghji says that the team considered the full range of business models currently offered in the space. At Real Networks, where two staff members worked, “we ran a subscription business,” he noted. “You’ve got problems with churn, lifetime value of customers, and customer acquisition costs. It will be a challenge for Angie’s List to sustain that.” Subscriptions also run counter to the company’s hopes of providing information “to the broadest base,” he says.

As for a leads based model akin to ServiceMagic, where SMBs are charged for leads whether they win the job or not, that doesn’t work either. “Consumers are seeking a service model, not an RFP-like model,” says Meghji .

The company launches its promotion this week with a $10 gift card to consumers that register to provide reviews. It is also appearing at a Seattle home show.

Angie’s List Crosses One Million ‘Member’ Threshold


Angie’s List, the Indianapolis-based premium services directory that charges members to access and participate in reviews of local service businesses, said it has crossed the one million member mark. The threshold has been reached after a major ad campaign on mass media outlets, the launch of many new markets, and continuing efforts with member referrals (which come with a big bag of M&Ms and entry into a sweepstakes).

The company had 650,000 members at this time last year. While the company does not disclose how many actual paid accounts it has, it has historically had an average of two members per paying household. It also had a number of free trials that it counted. Ultimately, it had 280,000 paid accounts. If the 43 percent ratio were to hold firm with one million members, the company would now have 430,000 paid accounts. But many of the variables, of course, have obviously changed.

Angie’s List, which also has advertising revenues, is currently preparing a separate revenue stream from its medical reviews, which represent 150 of Angie’s 425 categories.

Angie’s List Tightens Policies Towards SMB Credentialing


Angie’s List, which now has 750,000 premium paying embers, says it will begin verifying the credentials of local service companies. Those found to be out of compliance will have an opportunity to comply or face an outing from Angie’s List. The company will also begin lobbying state officials to strengthen state policies towards listing service credentials.

“Licensing laws vary greatly across the country and even among cities within the same state, which makes it hard for contractors to keep track of what’s required and what isn’t. Consumers don’t have a chance of figuring it out without help,” said co-founder Angie Hicks, in a release. “Angie’s List will be working to make it easier for them. But the key to really accomplishing a better system will fall to lawmakers.”

Most states issue licenses for at least some contractors, including plumbers, electricians, heating and cooling specialists, handymen, builders and remodelers. However, the licensing requirements can be befuddling.

“A current trade license won’t guarantee that your contractor will complete your job perfectly, but it will give you some insight into how your contractor handles his or her business,” Hicks said. “In communities where licensure is required, unlicensed contractors are breaking the law. If he or she breaks this one, what others will they break? If the contractor doesn’t know he or she needs a license to operate, what does that say about how on top of things he or she is?”

Fwix, a ‘Local Newswire,’ Goes Mobile for Easy Submissions


The opportunities for “citizen journalism” and “consumer nation” are there. Social and hyperlocal media sites like Yelp and Angie’s List have done more than OK. But mobile on-the-go apps are more than likely going to kick the roof off.

Citysearch has already seen this with its reviews. When people don’t have to wait to go home to submit something, they are many more times likely to submit a review, even with awkward thumb texting (Unless, of course, they are home.)

Now comes Fwix, a year-old news aggregator for 85 U.S. cities that sports “Real Time Local News” as its tagline. The site was founded by Darian Shirazi, a 22 year old that has already put in time at Facebook and eBay. According to PaidContent, the site has received some seed funding from BlueRun Ventures.

This week, Fwix rolls out an iPhone app that enables users to file news updates, photos and video. Fwix’s geo-filter leverages GPS to check for accuracy of locations and aggregate other postings from the location, as The New York Times’ Claire Cain Miller notes in her writeup. Indeed, the filter could make the site a better and more focused c-journalism site than Twitter, which has a lot of noise in the postings.

Will Fwix’s c-journalism be successful as a standalone app? Probably not, although Miller notes that the site can build up from 400,000 unique viewers that its news aggregation attracts every month. But if it starts to work with major media sites, along the lines of Everyblock, a hyperlocal data gathererer just acquired by MSNBC.com—or even build up a news consortia like an Associated Press – it could be on to something.

ServiceMagic, Meredith Team on Targeting Women


Women have become a prime target for service referrals. The appeal of Angie’s List’s premium gated community is largely oriented around them. Now ServiceMagic is ramping it up.

The IAC company, which recently launched an ambitious TV campaign, has announced a new partnership with Meredith Corp. that integrates a ServiceMagic widget (“find a pro”) with several sites related to Better Homes and Gardens magazine, including BHG.com, DIYadvice.com, kitchenbathideas.com and remodelingcenter.com. In addition to the widget, Meredith and ServiceMagic will launch a toll free “concierge” phone service that will aim women towards a range of home services.

The Meredith sites draw 16 million unique visitors per month. ServiceMagic draws four million unique on its own.

“This agreement brings together the two major elements of any home improvement project – inspiration and the right professional to make it happen,” says Craig Smith, CEO of ServiceMagic.com (who is speaking at Kelsey’s Directional Media Strategies conference in September). “The millions of homeowners who look to Meredith for design ideas now have a reliable source for finding the specialists to make their projects a reality. It takes a home project from inspiration to installation.”

ServiceMagic TV Campaign Takes on YPs


ServiceMagic, like Angie’s List, is spending big time to reach home owners with network TV ads. Two are currently in rotation; this one is a direct “PC vs. Mac” -like take on the Yellow Pages.

ServiceMagic is not the only local company on the airwaves. But it is the only one spending money. PennySaver also has floated a video, based on MC Hammer’s “You Can’t Touch This.” But its “MC Saver” is only on YouTube.

Thanks to my colleague Steve Marshall and his TV Eye for noticing the ServiceMagic spots.