531: An Appetite for Opportunity | Jamie Cohen, CFO, ANGI Homeservices

The recent opening of a Chicago office of ANGI Homeservices is one that the firm would like to replicate, but not in terms of size (the site has a capacity for roughly 100 sales representatives) or even necessarily geographic location. Instead, the home services player plans to duplicate the approach that it used to determine whether a Chicago location was worthy of investment, according to ANGI Homeservices CFO Jamie Cohen, who says that signing a 10-year lease for tens of thousands of square feet is often just too big a gamble when so many questions remain unanswered.

“Can we recruit in this market? Can we sell in this market? And can we build upon this foundation?,” rhetorically asks Cohen, who adds that the approach involves “a pop-up sales center” concept that permits ANGI to test out new markets in a “low commitment manner.”

In the case of Chicago, ANGI deployed a small team of about 20 people into a Chicago-area WeWork location, where they soon found answers to Cohen’s questions that allowed her and ANGI’s operational team to green-light a larger, more permanent home for the team.

Meanwhile, Cohen’s finance function is now home to ANGI’s real estate team, which oversees about 1 million square feet of property. Besides being one of ANGI’s heftiest expenses, real estate is part of a more collaborative financial model that operates in lockstep with the company’s capacity for hiring sales personnel—the same people that ANGI uses to determine future office space commitments. –Jack Sweeney

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Guest: Jamie Cohen

Company: ANGI Homeservices (NASDAQ: ANGI)

Headquarters: Denver, CO

Connect: www.angihomeservices.com

CFOTL: How is the company achieving greater visibility into its data?

Cohen: When you come through an environment where there are a lot of different people pulling data, you can get different answers to the same question if you don’t have the same definitions, so we have rolled out both business intelligence self-serve platforms as well as enterprise reporting, all focused around having one source of the truth and the same number, no matter who is pulling it. We’re definitely trying to give more tools to the business. We’re a very data-driven company, and people are constantly wanting to monitor metrics. Whether it’s in a self-serve platform or building out custom reporting for the different departments, we’re always pushing out more information. We’ve been on a journey to build a data warehouse probably since I joined. I think that we’ve really gotten traction over the past few years in putting the infrastructure in place and then choosing the right tools to sit on top of that data warehouse.

We have one tool that is just the ability to ad hoc pull data and slice and dice things. We also use another platform that has prebuilt reporting that you can filter to kind of see updates on a live basis. I think that as these platforms have gotten more and more trustworthy and sophisticated over time, the business has definitely relied on them more. It is a huge project to build out an entire data warehouse, especially for a business like ours where we have so much data. And we’re not there yet, as we haven’t built out every single metric. We start with the most important ones. We start with revenue, we start with service requests, and then, over time, we start to build out more complex data structures. So it’s important to know that you have an analyst team that is your safety net to continue to pull those more difficult queries and things that aren’t in existence in the data warehouse, while at the same time you are starting to incrementally build out more and more into the data warehouse and self-serve platforms. jb