Olio

3 November 2022

Sustainability Stories: OLIO 

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If food waste were a country, then it'd be the world's third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Here in the UK, a typical family throws away over £700 of food each year which adds up to a staggering £12.5 billion in total. At the same time, hunger and poverty are growing phenomenally. Enter Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One. 

A shared passion

Tessa Clarke grew up on a dairy farm in North Yorkshire, England. From a young age her childhood had a running theme – to get food, work had to be done. Seeing how much effort went into producing it instilled a firm belief in Tessa that food was meant to be eaten, not thrown away.

Years later, her lightbulb moment occurred as she prepared to move home from Switzerland. While packing up, she grew frustrated she couldn't find anyone to give her leftover food to. Why wasn't there an app to share leftover food with someone who needed it?

Tessa shared this idea with family and friends…who all thought she was crazy. Until Saasha Celestial-One. 

Having grown up with Iowa hippy entrepreneur parents, Saasha often accompanied her mom on salvaging and reselling missions. In doing so she not only earned pocket money but literally learned one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

She'd always dreamed of starting her own food business one day. She met Tessa at Stanford business school in 2002, but it wasn't until 2015 when their passions aligned and they settled on a name and business plan within an hour of Tessa sharing the idea with Saasha.

And OLIO was born.

Share more, waste less

At its simplest form, OLIO connects neighbours with each other and with local businesses so surplus food (and household items) are given away, not thrown away. Spare home-grown vegetables, shop surplus and even food in your fridge nearing its use by date can all be shared on the app.

Notwithstanding that these surplus items are shared for free, these powerhouse female founders have achieved what, until recently, seemed unachievable, by monetising waste to create a purposeful business with growing revenue streams.

OLIO's simplicity has seen it skyrocket in popularity, with over five million OLIOers joining the free app internationally. Over 47 million portions of food and over three million other household items have been given away - all of which would have otherwise been destined for the bin.

OLIO has also recently launched OLIO Borrow, where trusted neighbours can lend and borrow everyday household items like books, tools and kitchen appliances.

This growth has required funding to help OLIO expand – and that's where Taylor Wessing came in.

Creating extraordinary results together

We've advised OLIO on its funding rounds from seed stage right through to last year when we helped OLIO secure US$43 million in Series B funding. This funding will allow them to scale their team from 40 to over 175 staff members and accelerate international expansion plans, primarily in Latin America, Northern Europe and Asia.

It will also grow OLIO's Food Waste Heroes Programme which enables food businesses and retailers to redistribute their surplus food to the local community, thanks to OLIO’s team of 35,000 trained volunteers, with the likes of supermarket chain Tesco recently signing on 2,700 UK stores. One item at a time, we're proud to help OLIO build a more sustainable future.

The team at Taylor Wessing has supported us from Seed through our Series B, and at every step of the way have provided us with superb legal and commercial advice. We are thrilled to have their support on our exciting journey and look forward to continuing to work together."

Tessa Clarke | Olio co-founder

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