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2012 Forty Under 40: Scott A. Brenton

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Scott A. Brenton
Where were you, and what were you doing in 1991?
A sophomore at Purdue University studying industrial management and industrial engineering, and living at the Sigma Chi fraternity house.

When you graduated from high school, what did you think you wanted to be as an adult?
The paths I considered most seriously were medicine and engineering.

Was there an event in the last 20 years that had a great impact on your aspirations and/or career path?
A sequence of events led to my passion for working in small, high-growth companies. During one of my entrepreneurship classes I listened closely to a lecture from Archie Leslie, a former partner at CID Equity Partners, an Indianapolis-based venture capital firm. I was enchanted by his description of the venture capital industry and the companies catapulted by venture financing. As fate would have it, CID ended up searching for a bachelors graduate to serve a one-year fellowship. Following my stint, I went to work in a portfolio company in Cleveland. The young software company did not experience the tremendous success that I had heard about in Leslie’s lecture, but my experience introduced me to the fun and influence that passionate, young professionals can have at small, high-growth companies.

Have you been mentored by (or had any significant interactions with) previous Forty Under 40 honorees?
Bill Oesterle, my partner at Angie’s List and a Forty Under 40 honoree from the class of 1999, had the most profound influence. Bill selected me to become the firm’s Entrepreneurial Fellow, and provided the priceless guidance and coaching that every young professional craves. Later, Bill encouraged me to apply to Harvard Business School and championed my application. When I graduated, Bill invited me to serve as chief operating officer of Angie’s List. Above all, Bill has reinforced the value of surrounding myself with good people—the types of people who make a man a better friend, husband, father and professional.

Where/what do you want to be 20 years from now?
To be right here in central Indiana doing exactly what I have been doing since 1999—rising early for runs through the Butler campus, sharing breakfast and conversation with my wife, Julie, heading to a small, high-growth company filled with people I care about, and spending evenings with good friends whom I admire.
 

Chief Operating Officer, Angie's List
Age: 39 

When Scott Brenton became chief operating officer of Angie’s List 12 years ago, he was a sort of jack-of-all trades.

“The title was a little silly when I started,” said Brenton, because there were only six employees, and he found himself doing everything from answering phones to fixing computers. Today, with 750 employees, he focuses on how the company collects, polishes and distributes information, including tools that allow Angie’s List members to retrieve information online and with mobile phones.

As one of the core leaders of Angie’s List since 1999, he is credited with its growth and transition into a booming Web-based business providing reliable consumer information on plumbers, roofers, painters and other service providers.

Brenton grew up on Indy’s south side and attended Center Grove High School. A graduate of Purdue University with a bachelor’s in industrial management, Brenton knew co-founders Angie Hicks and Bill Oesterle from his postgraduate fellowship at Indianapolis-based CID Equity Partners, where Oesterle was a mentor and Hicks was an intern.

His appreciation of the people at CID who took him under their wing is why Brenton, who also has an MBA from Harvard, believes in doing his part to nurture young people along in their careers.

As chairman of the Orr Entrepreneurial Fellowship program, he does just that. The Orr Fellowship’s goal is to identify and nurture the next generation of Indiana’s business leaders. Each year, Brenton explained, the program selects 20 to 30 of the most-promising college applicants and places them with local, high-growth companies that agree to mentor them and nurture their careers.

He is also on the board of Techpoint, which promotes technology-based enterprise and economic developments, and Pellegrino and Associates, a private company that provides valuation services for intellectual property, finance and technology issues.

A competitive runner and cyclist, Brenton and his wife, Julie, have three children ages 6, 9 and 11.•

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