How does a $1.5 billion public company stay scrappy, relevant, and local?
J. Mark Howell, Chief Operating Officer for the website Angie’s List and University of Notre Dame alum, flew in from Los Angeles recently to speak to ESTEEM students and answer that very question.
For those of you who haven’t had the chance to utilize Angie’s List before, the site is a subscription based resource for crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses. As of October 2013 they had 2,378,867 paid members and approximately 100 employees on staff.
So yeah, they’re kind of a big deal.
The chance to get a firsthand account of how Angie’s List came to be one the premier crowdsourcing businesses on the web was an incredible opportunity for ESTEEM students, and afforded those in attendance a look into what makes the company tick.
Howell started off by giving a brief overview of his experience, from his time spent earning a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration at Notre Dame, to his work at a number of successful companies before coming to Angie’s List. He went on to to describe the rise of the site itself, which was founded in 1995 as a call in service before making the transition to the web in 1999. By 2011 the company had gone public with an initial IPO, and the rest as they say is history.
But it wasn’t just the in-depth discussion of facts and figures that made Howell’s visit with ESTEEM so beneficial, it was the way the he was able to share a firsthand account of the companies unique approach to innovation that made it an event to remember. He discussed the business model behind Angie’s List, and was able to delve into how the company uses multiple revenue streams to increase the likelihood of success.
In the world of business it is imperative to find people with previous experience to lean on and learn from. Howell coming to Notre Dame helped to foster the mentorship-centric methodology necessary to promote professional growth for ESTEEM students. Whether it was his discussion about how vision can be used to transform an industry, or his breakdown of why people truly invested in innovation shouldn’t be afraid to fail, these tricks of the trade constitute a learning experience that can’t be found in textbooks.
It took Angie’s List 16 years to reach one million paid subscribers. Within the next 18 months they had doubled that. Getting that type of firsthand knowledge from someone directly responsible for helping to foster such incredible growth isn’t just beneficial, it very well could be a springboard to success for a new generation of entrepreneurs.