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Food sharing app OLIO raises $43M Series B, as the world switches on to the food waste crisis

It was curious enough that OLIO, a UK startup with an app that lets users post a photo of unwanted food and share it with the regional place, picked up$ 6 million in Series A fund back in 2018. Numerous outside sees wondered what was going on with this simple app, which examined on first inspection to be little more than a sort of community bulletin board about unwanted meat. How could such a low-key idea have attracted such interest from serious investors like Accel? The rebut is far more fascinating than its humble lineages imply, and today founders Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One- who started OLIO out of frustration with food waste- prove they truly might be onto something pretty big.

For OLIO has now elevated a $43 million Successions B round.

The last round presided over by Swedish investment firm VNV Global( the publicly hovered money which has backed Avito, Delivery Hero, Babylon) and New York-based hedge fund Lugard Road Capital/ Luxor( an NYC hedge fund with knowledge in marketplaces ). Existing investors Accel, Octopus Ventures, Rubio, and Jason Stockwood( engineering entrepreneur) and Lord Waheed Alli( media entrepreneur and politician ). Additionally, DX Ventures, the VC arm of menu delivery firm Delivery Hero, is a new most tactical investor in the round.

With this new war chest, OLIO plans to accelerate its international stretch intentions, growing its Food Waste Heroes Programme, which effectively acts as an enterprise play amongst food businesses and eateries to achieve zero food waste, shorten their environmental impact and chipped carbon emissions.

It will also places great importance on 10 key business in The countries of latin america, Northern Europe and Asia, where the startup says it’s seeing strong organic growth.

Founded in 2015 by Clarke and Celestial-One, OLIO started out face far more like a non-profit than a rocket-ship startup, simply allowing users to give away unwanted food and other household parts to neighbors, for free. What perhaps provided it apart was the very mission-driven benefactors, who were and are deeply committed to reducing food waste in the home and helping people to expend more locally and sustainably. But it also turned out to be a god-send to neighbourhood meat jobs like diners, who suddenly perceived they could not only give away food sustainably but likewise garner positive optics with local purchasers as a result. This growth-hacking coming has helped OLIO get into some huge jobs Tesco, which last year threw 2,700 UK collects on the pulpit, redistributing surplus food nearing its sell-by date via OLIO’s network.

The brainchild of Clarke, a farmer’s daughter who couldn’t stand investigating nutrient go to waste, OLIO now has over five million customers of the app who have shared 25 million portions of food( equivalent to taking 75 million auto miles off the road) and three million non-food items, all saved from the trash dump. Half of all nutrient added to the app is requested within 21 minutes of announcing, says the company.

Zoomed-out, the food waste initiated globally each year amounts to a prodigiou $1.3 trillion. The significance of that is not just lost food but also enormous amounts of CO2.

In a statement( full TechCrunch interview below) Clarke said: “OLIO has grown five times over the last year, manifesting a step alter that’s taken place as businesses and citizens look to be more sustainable and connect with their local communities. We’re beyond thrilled to have raised this fund from a gorgeous placed of investors who are backing our perception of reinventing consumption for more than one billion OLIOers by 2030. We have this enormous goal because humanity cannot continue to puzzle over how to keep global warming within 1.5 units and feed a population of 10 billion- whilst continuing to throw away one-third of the food we render, and consuming as if we have 1.75 planets. In solving these twin troubles we aim to build one of the most transformational companionships of our generation.”

OLIO says its Food Waste Heroes programme now has over 30,000 participants. These are “trained members of the community” who muster and redistribute unsold or unserved menu from business such as Pret A Manger, Compass Catering, Costa Coffee and Elior.

Clarke said expect from both UK and international businesses to reduce their trash is being driven by proliferating ESG commitments: “Incoming inquiries from major retailers, grocery bringing services and fast-food labels are coming in thick and fast. OLIO is one of the most basic, most cost-effective directions an organization managed to achieve zero food waste.”

But OLIO is not just tapping the desire of people to see food waste go away, it has also been super-charged by the pandemic because people were abruptly forced to live and interact locally.

That wants its’ MADE’ area for users to buy and sell neighbourhood homemade food and handmade ships has learnt far greater rates in the best interests from useds. It also has a’ GOALS’ section, which showcases 100+ simple “swaps”. In other words, OLIO has also uncovered a potential avenue for neighbourhood borrowing or hiring. This lean it very much in a region Facebook Marketplace would more or less kill to be. Thus, new peculiarities,’ BORROW’ and’ WANTED’, are planned to launch within the next six months, say the founders.

The new Series B round will also serve to scale the OLIO team from 40 to 175+.

Per Brillioth, CEO of VNV Global, which led to the loss the round, said: “The growth of OLIO over the last year has been nothing short of miraculous and it’s clear that consumers has become more focused on the small actions they can take to improve the sustainability of their houses. OLIO, a next-generation community marketplace with the prospects for absolutely world-wide reach, is perfectly positioned to service this movement and in doing so create a genuinely transformational company.”

Duncan McIntyre, Managing Partner of DX Ventures said: “Having constructed a solid and fast-growing community of users, OLIO is tackling the world-wide food waste problem in a scalable and sustainable way.”

OLIO clearly has a big vision that goes well beyond food-sharing, as shown in my interrogation with co-founder Tessa Clarke 😛 TAGEND

Mike Butcher: Would you say this is the story of a startup which started with a simple idea but which has grown to be something a greta cope bigger?

Tessa Clarke: Yes it’s very much a thinking of where I consider the world is today, in that we are waking up to the climate crisis. And in a post-COVID World OLIO suddenly makes an awful lot of sense.We develop over 5X through last year and that sort of pace of swelling is continuing as people are realising’ I want to connect with my neighbours. I hate having to throw stuff apart. I kind of want to be connected with my parish and feel sanctioned, feel like I’m making a difference.’

Butcher: Why do you think food enterprises have gotten involved in your Food Waste program?

Clarke: They’ve seen the IPCC reports, they know they’ve got to get to net zero. Now, they’ve got to have a proper ESG strategy. That is the food waste heroes program part of the business and it’s booming. We’ve got an unbelievably strong pipeline there because jobs have wasted the past couple of years kicking off many campaigns through their quantity order to try and reduce and eliminate food waste. They’ve done all of that, and they’re now coming out the other end of those projects and working with charities and with disregard apps, and they’re make the inevitable conclusion that they have to work with OLIO to get to zero food waste. So we depleted the last year scaling up very rapidly with Tesco across their collect portfolio.

Butcher: What’s the effect of developing regulation and demand from ESG standards having?

Clarke: By analogy child labor was rife in the fashion industry, for countless, many decades. Now in assessed and observed out of existence. The same is now happening with food waste. It’s no longer acceptable to have that big debris receptacle at the back of the collect, chucking out perfectly good food. Your patrons are calling you out about it on social media, and your employees are telling you that they do not want to be paid to throw away perfectly good food every day. So, if you’re a high street retailer, staff retention is claim at the top of your top three challenges.

Butcher: A Series B round doesn’t time happen because people want to throw away a ready dinner. Can you tell me more about how OLIO videotapeed into this circular economy and locked at these large-hearted, enterprise levels of corporations?

Clarke: Correct. Tesco exhausted a video celebrating our one-year anniversary together. We’ve saved over 5 million meals, and for them as a corporate to be able to reposition themselves as a colonist, as a chairman … that’s going to go through all of their social media directs, all their marketing paths, and it casts really strong signaling to their employees and to their purchasers that they’re serious about getting to net zero. Other vast corporates are sitting up and listening and they want to do the same.

Butcher: A cynical being might say this was a cutesy idea, perhaps on first encountering it. Do you feel that scornful attitude allowed “youre going to” fly under the radar build these grassroots devotees, with a proliferation approaching?

Clarke: You’re absolutely right, “were having” massively flown under the radar. We’ve been enormously underestimated because of what we looked like on the outside, and perhaps because we were a female founded business. When we started off people didn’t know our long-term vision. We’re rooted in community, and Saasha and I could see unusually, very clearly, where the world was going, so we’ve built a really strong, genuine mission-led business. We’ve got 50,000 ambassadors who are spreading the word about OLIO all over the world to everybody who will listen, and that digit is growing every day. We’ve get 30,000 civilized volunteers and we’re getting 1000 s more every month to redistribute surplus nutrient in their neighbourhood community. We hear over and over again:’ We suffice our community and we dislike consume ‘. We’re tap into something very human, which is the hate of trash. We’re too tapping into something else very human, which is it feels really good to give something you don’t want to someone else living nearby who would like it. It feels good to share. And since COVID we’ve had over 40% of our community that they feel less lonely. That’s pretty major when there are over 9 million people in the UK who say they often feel lonely. That’s really powerful nonsense and is not immediately self-evident when you open the app. But formerly parties give it a go for the first time they find it’s’ night and day.’

Butcher: Did you engineer the app’s appeal in that way or did it just develop organically?

Clarke: We are unashamedly bold, and we are driven by our mission. We are piling on towards a three grade, four unit plus warmed planet, the consequences of that are unimaginable and food waste, if it would be a country would be the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. A landmass, larger than China is used every year to grow food that’s never been eat. One-quarter of humanity’s freshwater is used to grow food that’s never feed … We’re all getting upskilled on current realities of the atmosphere crisis more and more beings are recognizing the number one solution to solving the atmosphere crisis is solving the food waste problem. So Saasha and I are horribly bold since we are believe that we cannot continue to sit here and scratching our abilities as a genu and say’ How are we going to keep the world within one and a half severities warming? ’ How are we going to feed 10 billion people, while still continuing to chuck apart a third of all the food we induce? So our lord imagination of OLIO is we want to completely reinvent how people consume. At the moment beings buy things, like clean machines, and then throw them away, That is the model of consumption that humanity has right now. And the model that we are introducing is:’ I still want to consume but I’m going to see what already exists in my local community, free of charge, faster than an Amazon delivery, and it feels immense to knowledge it. I will take what my neighbors do not want free of charge ./ We are propelling as borrow equipment tons as well. And when people want to buy something new, we want them to buy it locally, appreciate the heritage of that backstory, and thus exhaust more sustainably. We just wanted to interrupted everything that Amazon and Facebook stand for. We kind of want to be the antidote to that.

Butcher: Do you think this put you in the discern occupied by NextDoor( value $4.3 billion) or Facebook Marketplace?

Clarke: Yes, Facebook marketplace and Etsy. NextDoort optimizes for connecting neighbors to share information, but we are optimized to connect neighbors to share things. That’s one big difference. The other major difference is that sustainability is roasted into our DNA, our raison d’etre. This army of 6000 voluntaries who, every day do 1,000 s of collection. Thousands of parties sounding across the road, picking up unsold menu from their regional canteen or bakery or deli or supermarket, they’re do that nutrient dwelling. On average, it takes 21 instants for an item to be requested inside the app. That hyperlocal real-time redistribution network was built into the community.

Butcher: With a funding round of this sort, obviously your investors realize a very big opportunity that is not just about beings sharing a sandwich that’s about to go off. You clearly have visibility into and data on things that probably no other busines has. What do you think would happen if NextDoor launching food sharing or Etsy decided to go for the neighbourhood busines?

Clarke: There is no one who is doing what we’re doing anywhere in the world. There’s a couple of reasons for it. One, it’s really fucking hard-boiled, quite frankly, and it’s been a bloody long slog to get to where we are. And I anticipate the other thing is when I think of who my contestants are, I think of the rubbish bin. That is my competitor. And so I have to design a product know-how, their home communities, a brand marketing communications that compete with that so that instead of throwing something apart in one second, someone can really use the OLIO app in ten seconds and sacrifice something apart … We have depleted times optimizing for connecting neighbours to exchange things in a way that is simple, safe, fast and fun. Other fellowships might well try and move more into our cavity but I believe that what we’re doing is pioneering the total reinvention of consumption, and- eventually, I’d like to think- capitalism … This is a brand new space right now, of course are there are going to be numerou players.

Butcher: This might be a slightly cheeky question, but do you think a somebody would have come up with this whole idea?

Clarke: No. But if a lover had come up with this idea, he would have had a shit tonne more fund than we’ve had to date! I’m being a little bantering, but actually, I reasonably earnestly stand by that. Local communities fluctuates from month to month between two-thirds and three-quarters female. And the above reasons for that is because women are still the primary people responsible for food in the home, which is our heartland and where we started. Equally, they are responsible for the decluttering in the home, and the utilization of resources in the home. And this touches on a fundraising top as well, which is that it can be hard sometimes for men to understand the use case that we will be discussing because they aren’t the one who is managing that ticklish balance of supply and challenge of food for your fridge each week. It’s hard work, extremely if you’ve got a family., Plus our female gathering specially enjoys the connection with the community piece. So, of course, a somebody could have come up with the relevant recommendations. But I do think that a lot of what OLIO is doing is rooted in a female perspective on the world countries, which is’ I dislike waste, I care about the environment.’ If you talk to anyone in the environmental movement it massively skews female. Anything to do with community massively skews female. Anything to do with food and obtaining menu massively skews female. I’m a farmer’s daughter from North Yorkshire. I had a a pretty poverty-stricken upbringing, working incredibly hard-bitten on my parents’ family farm with my two younger friends. And when you’re brought up in that really frugal environment on the region, then you grown up with pathological hatred of food waste. So the lightbulb time was six years ago when I was moving country, had to pack up my house and through the nutrient in the fridge apart, and I has been said’ I’m not doing this’ so I stopped backpack and bundled up my newborn baby and toddler and set about into the streets, clutching this nutrient, hoping to find someone to give it to, only to fail miserably. That was the moment when, after working in the digital world for the previous 10 years or so, I wondered why there wasn’t an easy app to precisely post my nutrient so a neighbor could walk around and pick it up. I shared the relevant recommendations with my co-founder Saasha. Most people meditated I was crazy, but she perfectly got it, and then we just fell down this rabbit defect of researching the problem of food waste, realise a trillion dollars worth of was being thrown away, recognise the environmental impact etc. We realise the reason why people waste throw stuff away is that they’re no longer connected to their community- because you don’t have anyone to give your give food to.

Butcher: Do you think the effect of the pandemic supercharged the business?

Clarke: Firstly, there were 1,000 of photographs of empty supermarket shelves that reminded that food is their life source. Secondly, people wanted to connect with their regional society, either to receive help. For a good deal of people remaining dwelling to help did not feel like enough, but being able to offer up spare food did. We loped awareness-raising campaigns called “cook for kids”, and we had over 30,000 meals cooked and prepared and offered up to local houses, via the app Thirdly, beings were living and driving from dwelling. It then entailed the OLIO exchange was much easier. I wasn’t trying to schedule it in between seven and nine at night, I’m around the working day and quite frankly it’s a really nice welcome break, I’ve got someone popping around by the way at two o’clock to pick up something from me, and it’s lovely time to break up the day have a little chat with bird-dogs, be able to get out, walk the dog, get some exercise, do whatever. So beings are now kind of living locally. And the final thing is, as we started the dialogue about improving back better, and parties recognized they didn’t need a latte from Starbucks every single day to be happy. So I think that net net, it’s been the best thing that could have happened, and hurled into sharp-worded comfort that the existential question facing humanity today is the climate crisis. Everybody woke up and recognise we’ve got to got something about it. And on OLIO it makes 10 seconds to give away something that you don’t want, You have a happy smiling neighbour and you’ve saved the planet.

Butcher: I infer a funding round in this nature means you’re going to proportion internationally?

Clarke: Because we’ve been available internationally for 6 years we’ve been able to watch the data. We’ve been able to see it stretch in, for example, Singapore or Mexico. These are not countries that I would have put on the top of an international expansion list. But we’ve had stupendous, stupendous resistance in The countries of latin america, for example. I’ve also viewed many other founders blow a great deal of fund and a great deal of age trying to crack America too early. So we want to get to scale, first, outside of America, so I think it represents ability for us related to these other sells. Plus, we’re getting lots of inbound from huge international retailers in other business that are reaching out to us saying, drawing the food waste program to our sell … So it’s a combination of looking at where we’re witnes organic friction, and where we’re getting the inbound interest from partners.

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