A while ago, my TV was flooded with ads for Angie’s List featuring a woman who was supposedly Angie herself. She looked too perfect to be real, and why, I wondered, would anyone rely on testimonials about local contractors that could so easily have been written by their friends and families? Besides, you had to pay a membership fee to see them.
The Angie shown on the commercials is the actual co-founder and eponym of Angie’s List, full name Angela Hicks Bowman, and she projects the image perfectly: modern and pretty, but practical and no-nonsense. A true Midwestern. No actress could do better.
Angie began her business in the 1990s in suburban Columbus, Ohio. Back then, it was a newsletter and call-in service of recommendations. She went door-to-door signing up members and collecting ratings. Her boss then, a venture capitalist, is now listed as the co-founder along with her of the current Angie’s List. (Earlier photos show her with slightly misaligned teeth, but she must have consulted her own list and had them fixed. She looks great either way.)
A few months ago, Angie’s List changed its business model and removed the membership requirement. Competitors were cropping up on the Internet who offered the same service for free.
In 2013, investors worried that the company had been in business for more than 18 years without showing an annual profit. But now, Angie’s List has been bought for $512 million. Angie did well for herself, and I expect the new owner will keep her on as the familiar spokesperson.
(Her house is not really crooked. The stock photo of her was tilted for dramatic effect.)