Reevoo hunkers down on staffing to burn slower for longer

Following the news today that Trutap is dropping to a skeleton operation, another UK Web startup is hunkering down amid the turmoil of the economic crisis. Reevoo, a B2B customer reviews site, has told seven (7) of its 31 staff that their jobs are now technically “at risk”. Although no staff have actually been let go as yet, staff and management are in consultation about what happens next.

CEO Richard Anson was up front with me on the phone today: “We’ve been looking long and hard at the business and have made the decision to drive for profitability faster. No-one has been let go. It’s a really difficult decision to come to when everyone here has been very committed to the business. But we’re still very upbeat and Reevoo is becoming a great place to reach an impartial decision about purchases.”

Anson denied the decision to look at staffing levels had come from Reevoo’s investors. Typically, venture-backed startups have recently been experiencing a cold wind, as investors breathe down their necks to cut staff and save costs to survive the economic downturn.

He added that the seven staff at risk were from “across the board” in the company. Should those staff leave the business will go down to 24 people in London.

Anson said reducing costs would extend the company’s “runway” – the time it will take to reach profitability. He said the site was doing £500,000 worth of transactions a month, and retains a large number of partners including Tescos, Ann Summers, Orange, T-Mobile, Comet, koodos, Dixons, Vodafone and others.

However, some staff have already left. James Adam, a Ruby developer, left last week, and Twitter chatter around Reevoo in the last few days has not been exactly positive.

But Reevoo is one UK startup in more or less reasonable shape. Back in March this year it secured an undisclosed round of investment from Banexi Venture Partners, the French leading venture capital firm that originally backed Kelkoo, while existing investors, including Eden Ventures, also participated in that round.

It also launched a French portal,

And last month Reevoo launched a new iPhone web app, which we reviewed.

How does Reevoo work? Put simply, Reevoo is out to help shoppers decide what to buy. It collates and publishes user generated comments and ratings of products from actual purchasers of products and displays them adjacent to the products on retail partners’ sites. The revenue model is based on a monthly fee for collecting reviews and displaying them on retailer sites, together with click-through referrals to retailers via the Reevoo portal.

However, I still think they need to work on their consumer-facing portal and their SEO.

A search on Google for “review of digital tv box uk” only shows Google Adsense ads from Reevoo, no organic search listings. Admittedly their business model is not predicated on consumers knowing their brand – but it can hardly hurt.