OLIO raises $6m to cut food waste

Food sharing startup OLIO has raised $6m in a series A round to help it scale its mission to combat a food crisis that sees a third of all food produced go to waste worldwide. The backing from Octopus Ventures will help it grow its product and partnerships.

04shareolioLondon-based food-sharing startup OLIO has confirmed $6m in series A venture support from Octopus Ventures. The injection of capital will be used to grow the OLIO app product and expand the company’s ‘food waste heroes’ programme that enables retailers, events and corporate canteens to become zero food waste.

OLIO, founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneurs and friends Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One, has created a free app connecting people with their neighbours and with local shops and cafes, so that surplus food can be shared, not thrown away. This month it passed the milestone of half a million users, having shared over 600,000 portions of food in two years.

In March this year OLIO won the sharing and communities prize at DigitalAgenda’s 2018 Impact Awards (pictured). And in May it emerged from Facebook’s first LDN_LAB incubator programme helping to build its passionate sharing community.

The Series A round was led by Octopus Ventures, with existing investors including Accel, Quadia, and ASOS/Achica co-founder Quentin Griffiths following on. New investors include Lord Waheed Alli’s Silvergate Investments 2, Bran Investments, Facebook’s Julien Codorniou and Simply Business founder Jason Stockwood.

The OLIO team is expected to double with the new backing.

OLIO’s work addresses one of the most pressing problems facing humanity today, with a third all food produced thrown away. That is worth over $1trn per year – while 800 million people on earth go to bed hungry each night.

In developed countries, food waste in the home accounts for more than half of all food waste: the average UK family throws away £800 of food per year that could have been eaten.

Food waste is also environmentally devastating as the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, after the USA & China.

Commenting on the new funding, OLIO fo-founder and chief executive Tessa Clarke said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be working with the Octopus team to unlock our vision of a world with hundreds of millions of hyper-local food sharing networks, so that our most precious resources can be shared, not thrown away.

“We are also extremely proud to have closed this round not only as one of a handful of female founded businesses, but also as part of the small but growing group of ‘tech for good’ companies.”

Zoe Chambers at Octopus added: “We are proud to back inspirational and passionate founders and are delighted that we are able to add Tessa and Saasha to our fantastic set of 10 other female founders in our portfolio. Beyond the obvious and

important benefits to the environment, OLIO is an online digital platform which is changing offline consumer behaviour by facilitating real-world interactions between neighbours for the purpose of sharing and redistributing valuable resources that would otherwise be wasted.”

OLIO has quickly grown from a local initiative in north London to a global movement, in large part thanks to

more than 20,000 brand ambassadors who spread the word about OLIO in their local communities.

Clarke and Celestial-One met during their MBAs at Stanford Business School before going on to build business careers.

OLIO’s impact to date

  • 200,000+ neighbour-to-neighbour doorstep exchanges
  • 60% of all items are shared between users within 2km of each other
  • 20,000+ volunteers in local communities
  • Increased awareness of food waste, with 30m views of educational videos.