Image Source: charged retail
In 2018, OLIO, a UK business with an app that allows users to submit a photo of undesired food and share it with their local community, received $6 million in Series A investment. Many outside observers were perplexed as to what was going on with this basic app, which appeared to be little more than a community bulletin board for unwanted food at first glance. How could a low-key concept like this pique the interest of major investors like Accel? The solution is considerably more intriguing than its humble beginnings suggest, and today’s creators Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One who founded OLIO out of irritation with food waste demonstrate that they may be onto something.
For OLIO, a $43 million Series B investment has been raised.
The newest round was headed by VNV Global (a publicly traded fund that has supported Avito, Delivery Hero, and Babylon) and Lugard Road Capital / Luxor, a New York-based hedge fund (an NYC hedge fund with expertise in marketplaces). Existing investors include Accel, Octopus Ventures, Rubio, and technology entrepreneur Jason Stockwood, as well as Lord Waheed Alli (media entrepreneur and politician). DX Ventures, the venture capital arm of meal delivery company Delivery Hero, is also a new very strategic investor in the round. OLIO intends to use this new funding to accelerate its international expansion plans, as well as to expand its Food Waste Heroes Program, which effectively acts as an enterprise play among food businesses and restaurants to achieve zero food waste, reduce their environmental impact, and reduce carbon emissions.
OLIO has gotten into several big companies thanks to this growth-hacking strategy. Tesco, which added 2,700 UK retailers to the platform last year, uses OLIO’s network to resell extra food that has beyond its sell-by date. OLIO was founded by Clarke, a farmer’s daughter who couldn’t tolerate watching food go to waste. The app now has over five million users who have shared 25 million pieces of food (equal to 75 million vehicle miles) and three million non-food items, all of which have been rescued from the landfill. According to the business, half of all food put to the app is ordered within 21 minutes of being posted.
Image Source: The Guardian
Food waste generated globally each year is estimated to be worth $1.3 trillion. The result is not just a loss of food, but also massive volumes of CO2. OLIO claims that over 30,000 people have signed up for their Food Waste Heroes initiative. OLIO isn’t only tapping into people’s desire to see food waste disappear; it’s also been boosted by the epidemic, which pushed people to live and connect nearby.
That means its ‘MADE’ area, which allows users to purchase and sell local homemade food and handcrafted goods, has gotten a lot more attention. There’s also a ‘GOALS’ section with over 100 basic “swaps.” To put it another way, OLIO has uncovered a possible source of local borrowing or renting. This placed it in a position where Facebook Marketplace would kill to be. According to the creators, new features such as ‘BORROW’ and ‘WANTED’ will be available over the next six months.