September marks President and CEO Scott Durchslag’s first anniversary with Angie’s List. We sat down with him to reflect on the past year, learn about his vision for the future and get to know the man himself.
Scott, share a little bit about your background, where you grew up, etc.
I’m from Chicago. I went to the University of Chicago for my undergrad degree and to Harvard for grad school. I have two children and a dog named Zulu. All three are pretty well known around the Angie’s List campus, with Zulu being the most notorious…I mean, famous.
What did you plan to do after college?
I wanted to be a war correspondent, humanitarian development worker for the UN, or a CEO. It didn’t take me long to realize that it would be difficult to have a family in two of those three areas, but I did get to spend 20 years living and working all over the world.
Tell us about a couple of your first “official” jobs.
I had my own landscaping business in junior high and high school. I had 20 lawns and learned to hate the rain — when I got behind it was excruciatingly hard to catch up.
I also worked for a builder near Long Island over the summer in high school. I learned a lot in that short time about what a contractor faces; and realized the importance of making sure to physically stop for a nice, refueling lunch every day.
After that, I sold cars on the south side of Chicago while I was in college. It was a fun job until I got held up in an armed robbery…but that’s a story for another day!
What do you like to do in your free time?
These days I like to read and spend time with my kids. I used to climb mountains and travel around dangerous countries, but it would be selfish for me to still be doing those things.
What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of?
Professionally, it would be turning around Best Buy and Expedia, when most people had already written off those companies as dead or dying. It was fun proving that reports of their deaths were exaggerated. It also was unbelievably fun growing Skype into a billion dollar business that utterly delights its customers.
I also look forward to the expectation of reigniting growth at Angie’s List so that we, too, are a successful business, capable of investing in delighting our skyrocketing base of members, service providers and partners. There is so much more we can do to help our service providers succeed in their businesses.
That being said, my favorite accomplishments are not about product or profit – they are the accomplishments of my children…and sometimes Zulu on a good day.
What excites you most about working at Angie’s List?
Being part of something bigger than myself. We have a noble mission – to relentlessly elevate the local home services experience. We help people fulfill their hopes about all that their home can be for their families. This taps into something deep, ancient and human; and it’s why our brand is grounded in the motto: Home is Where Our Heart is.
You’ve been with Angie’s List for a year. Could you reflect on what you consider to be the high points?
I have found this all personally rewarding: to be able to re-establish a dialogue with you; and to take feedback you have generously given and put it into action in a short period of time.
The first high point that comes to mind is the update of angieslist.com to a state-of-the-art platform. It allows us to innovate 10 times faster, enabling us to offer features and benefits not previously possible, and deliver new ways to seamlessly connect you to high-value consumers who need help with projects that turn into real jobs. I’m really excited about the service provider dashboard coming soon, the new ways we will help advertisers differentiate and the new tools we will make available.
Next would be that we removed the reviews pay wall, which has reignited explosive growth in the member base and their usage of our site to generate reviews, view business profiles and ultimately jobs.
As you can see from our ads and website, we also have reenergized our brand to ensure it stays firmly anchored in the high quality we have always stood for and that you depend on.
Our team has developed and delivered new personalized, customized and data driven tools and products to help you better manage and grow your business.
The Angie’s List sales force has transformed from being transaction focused to true relationship managers, who have the time and incentive to help you meet your business goals. We really want to understand if you want growth in the number of jobs, quality of jobs, or speed of jobs completed. We will increasingly be able to shape the traffic we send you to meet your criteria for success.
Any last thoughts or things you want to share moving forward with your second year?
This has been both the shortest and the longest year of my life, but it’s only the beginning. We’ve made exciting changes and we’re not finished yet.
Next year will be even more profound as we create a dedicated home services marketplace that uses technology to dynamically deliver leads and opportunities based on the goals defined by you.
If we can get you really working on our platform, we will be able to dynamically match supply and demand so you will be as busy as you want to be with the types of customers you seek to serve. That will be a win for you, for the consumer and ultimately for us.