Richard Anson co-founded Reevoo, a leading crowd commerce aggregator. His vision is to build a global trusted brand that harnesses the power of customer opinion to help consumers make the best decision, whilst increasing sales for retailers, brands and publishers.
Trust and transparency are at the heard of Reevoo, where they work to ensure that opinions are from verified purchasers and commit to displaying the good and the bad. You have probably used Reevoo if you’ve shopped at Europe’s largest retailers and the World’s largest brands, such as Sony, Tesco, Best Buy, Kodak, Orange, Dixons, Toshiba and T-mobile. Reevoo currently delivers over 70 million reviews a month for over 8m unique users.
Prior to founding Reevoo, Richard advised media, technology and telecoms companies on strategy for KPMG and was interim Head of Group Planning at Orange, covering 22 countries. Before that, he was on the small deals team managing investments of up to £5 million at 3i. He has a PhD, from the University of Bristol and an MBA from the Cranfield School of Management.
He lives in London with his young family, whilst he aspires to windsurf like a pro (though he is being increasingly distracted by the world of kitesurfing).
What are you working on right now?
We initially focused on building the best service in a single vertical in Europe, consumer electronics. I am now expanding Reevoo across other consumer verticals and working on taking our service beyond Europe to the rest of the world.
3 trends that excite you?
Total Commerce: consumers now have multiple channels available to shape their purchase decision (e.g. in store, via the “fixed” web, and out and about on their mobile devices). This provides retailers, manufacturers and publishers with a huge opportunity (which is rapidly becoming an obligation), to meet the needs of their customers no matter where they are by providing seamless experiences across all of these channels.
Social Commerce: 1 in 11 humans are now on Facebook, sharing their thoughts, likes and dislikes. This is driving some fundamental changes in the way that we all interact with brands and how we choose, purchase and decide who to transact with and remain loyal to. For brands its important to understand that social commerce is not just another way to sell, you’re entering a sacred space for consumers and it’s important to look at what the consumer wants from you in this new world of social media and begin to engage in a two way conversation and build real relationships. Brands who recognise this will succeed in social.
The trend towards openness in commerce and the increasing awareness that trust and transparency is becoming a bigger and bigger issue.
How do you bring ideas to life?
We have built a culture of working fast and releasing early and often at Reevoo. This makes it a very exciting and fun place to work and also allows us to get valuable user feedback early in the development process so we can iterate fast and just as importantly fail fast if we find that something isn’t working (which is hard).
Our latest product, AskAnOwner, is one example of this. AskAnOwner is a unique product which enables consumers to ask questions about a particular product to existing, verified owners of that product, enabling a real conversation to develop, Our original idea was to use Twitter as the communication platform, but we weren’t getting enough owner opt in volumes. Edwin, our Head of User Experience, suggested changing to email (which most others thought had had its day as a channel), and bingo, it is now flying with over 20,000 registered ‘Askers’ in just 2 months. Its now live on a number of our partners websites including Sony (http://www.sony.co.uk/product/dsc-h-series/dsc-hx1), Tesco and Jessops.
We have a number of ways that we try to continue to foster innovation and stay agile as we grow. We run a weekly planning game where everyone in the company can vote for what they think we should focus on for this week’s development sprint. Every Thursday afternoon our development team can work on anything they like as long as its Reevoo related and many of our best innovations have come from this. Last summer, our Chief Product Officer, Kyle McGinn, ran a devfort where 15 of the team from all areas of the business spent a week in a country house, with the loose remit to design and build something to help consumers choose. They built JustBuyThisOne.com to help time-poor customers suffering from information overload to make the best purchasing decision without sifting through page after page of product details and it’s been a real hit with our users and the media.
What inspires you?
For me its entrepreneurs, what they are doing, what they aspire to do and what they have achieved – nearly always against the odds. I come away from those meetings with my mind buzzing and renewed belief that anything is possible. It doesn’t matter what stage they are at, whether they are just starting out or have built a successful business, the mere fact that they are doing what they believe in inspires me.
What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
I have learnt that I can’t control everything but that I can make sure that we only recruit the best people into Reevoo and then give them the space and resources to make it happen.
What is the one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There is a huge opportunity in becoming the global repository for data related to products and services, ensuring they are standardised and accessible. Whilst being valuable in its own right, it would also speed innovation at all sorts of levels. A number of organizations are trying, including the likes of GS1, but there is still a long way to go.
What is one book and one tool that helps you bring ideas to life?
I have about three notebooks on the go at one time where I capture everything. Inspiration can strike anywhere at any time so I make sure I’ve always got a notebook to capture it.
At Reevoo, its more about the team and culture that brings it all to life. Yes, we use Ruby on Rails, but more importantly we are agile in our approach from idea to fully-fledged product.
Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?
Mel Young, President of the Homeless World cup (http://www.homelessworldcup.org/).
What’s more important, the idea or the execution?
Whilst ideas and vision are hugely important for me lots of people have good ideas, but it’s turning those ideas into reality – the execution bit – that is the really hard and valuable bit.
How do you manage to balance building a business with the rest of your life, particularly your family?
It is hard, but I think I have managed to achieve a good balance by making technology work for me, rather than the other way round. These days when everyone is always on, I try and ensure I get home and see the kids before they go to bed at least a couple of nights during the week and then have supper with my wife, before re-engaging with the world again after dinner. I also try to keep the weekends free for family time as much as possible.