Tag Archives: Angie’s List

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.

Angie’s List Adds Groupon-Like Group Buying

Angie’s List, the ratings service for home services and medical providers in markets around the U.S., is adding Groupon-like group buying offers to services and medical providers that receive high ratings from its members of “B” or above – the criteria for all its advertising.

“The Big Deal” offer is being developed in-house, and is being tested in three markets: Indianapolis, Chicago and Washington, D.C.,. It has plans to expand to 25 cities by the end of June and eventually serve 50-80 cities.

Founder Angie Hicks tells us that the company sees group buying as a direct descendant of other marketing that the company provides, including advertising, coupons, direct mail, etc. The key Angie’s List differentiator is that every service provider will be certified as high quality by its member ratings.

Another differentiator is that Angie’s List is going to go hyperlocal with the offers. “We are used to targeting down to the neighborhood level,” she says. “We can get down to the level of a section of a zip code. It is of real interest to us. Dog walkers can take advantage of this. Otherwise, it would only be limited to large companies.” Hicks also says that the company is not being confined to specific thresholds for group buys. Each offer will be different.

Typical offer categories might include dentistry, massage therapy, carpet cleaning deals, and roofing deals. “There may be real opportunities there,” says Hicks. “We’ve got 500 categories that we’ve collected reviews on.”

The service expects to offer one deal a week per city. Some offers will be marketed on a non-local basis, so members might see five deals in a week. Hicks adds that participating service providers will be providing Angie’s List with commissions from sales. But it won’t be as high as the 30-50 percent that other deal a day providers are getting. “For us, it is an added revenue stream, but it is not our sole stream,” she says.

An added benefit of providing the service is its viral nature. Non-members can participate and learn more about Angie’s List, perhaps joining the service, which costs up to $67 per year. Hicks says that the service currently has over 500,000 active household accounts –including paid and free trial accounts — and over one million members.

InsiderPages Launches Doctor Finder

If you do a search on a doctor, you may come up with five or six spammy, ad-supported links. But now InsiderPages, a property of IAC’s Citysearch, has launched DoctorFinder, a new service that hopes to simplify the complex task of finding good medical recommendations. Revenue-wise, the service is hoping to get the high CPMs associated with medical search, which can be in “double digits” for general practitioners and as high as $80 to $100 for specialists such as Chiropractors.

The new focus on medical follows similar efforts by Angie’s List, which launched medical provider ratings last year for its paid members.

General Manager Eric Peacock tells us that most review sites have focused on restaurant reviews and beauty salons “but it is hard to pick a doctor. We’ve been coming up short.” He says that the joke at his company is that “most people spend more time picking out a flatscreen TV than picking a doctor.”

Medical information is especially well suited for InsiderPages user demographics, which lean towards “middle aged mothers who may be looking for a pediatrician that takes Blue Cross and is located two miles from their house,” says Peacock.

Insider’s efforts will collect three pieces of information: types of insurance accepted, practitioner credentials, and patient reviews. The reviews are based on a 10 question survey that asks key questions such as “does the doctor spend appropriate time with you? Does he listen to your questions?”

Peacock notes that Angie’s List also has a survey, but it is “really, really long,” he says. Angie’s List also is more of a metropolitan area provider, while InsiderPages is more urban, he adds.

The Insider surveys are being conducted in partnership with HealthGrades, which already has a 1.2 million review database, and information on 800,000 U.S. doctors. Peacock notes that HealthGrades is not directly competitive with InsiderPages because its primary business is providing data to hospitals and other medical businesses.

Competitive is information provided by the key insurance companies may prove to be more competitive. Anthem, for instance, partners with Zagat for its online review database. Blue Cross, Aetna, Kaiser and Cygna also have major online efforts.

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.