Making A Difference

Finish What You Start-up

Angie Hicks (MBA 2000)

Angie Hicks (MBA 2000) is cofounder and CMO of the popular online ratings website Angie’s List. In this interview she reflects on the challenges––and advantages––of starting her company away from Silicon Valley:

“Don't take yourself too seriously. I think a lot of times––whether we're coming out of college, coming out of business school––we have ourselves puffed up in a way that the reality of the world is going to crush in some way.

“There was an advantage, in some ways, to being a startup in the Midwest. As I was getting out of HBS, it was 2000. It was the tech boom. It's like, everybody was moving to the coast. And we kind of got to stay outside the fray.

“Sometimes, one of the biggest challenges with starting a business is staying focused on starting a business. And we weren't lured by the next greatest bell or whistle that was coming along. And I think, as we ended up getting venture funds later in the business, it was the best of both worlds, because we had funding from venture firms on the coast, but we were able to stay heads down here. So they could get us introduced at the appropriate things, but we weren't distracted. We had been told that we should move the business; that we wouldn't be able to find the talent we needed here. But in many ways, that kind of spurred us to prove them wrong.”

(Published October 2017)