People’s Champion finalist 2018: OLIO

Seeking to turn businesses and households into food waste heroes OLIO is redistributing food to those in need. Will you back the app as your People’s Champion?

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Start-up name: OLIO
Founders: Saasha Celestial-One and Tessa Cook
Started in: 2015
Based in: London
Business description: A free food sharing app connecting those with food they don’t need, such as businesses, cafés and households, with neighbours who do.

Shortlisted categories:

Founders Pledge Social Impact Award

The OLIO story:

It’s hard to believe just how big a problem food waste is. Take a moment to imagine what £800 of edible food might look like – that’s what the average household chucks out each year. That’s £15bn of food that might otherwise have gone to better use.

Step forward OLIO, the app designed to connect reformed food wasters with neighbours who could benefit. Enviably simple, users take a photo of their unwanted food and share it. Any takers, having received an alert, can then arrange a pick-up from an agreed location.

Proof of its popularity is in the numbers. More than 600,000 users, including local retailers, cafés and markets with food nearing the use-by date, have connected more than 250,000 times, sharing around a million portions of food.

Fond of an analogy, the company explains that from an environmental perspective this equates to taking 1.4 million miles off the road.

All of this activity helps contribute to businesses using the site being recognised by OLIO’s Food Waste Heroes Programme, with the likes of Pret a Manger, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons all aiming to have zero food waste stores. Retailers pay to access volunteer OLIO ambassadors who collect food and redistribute locally.

User reaction times are rapid too, with 40% requesting uploaded food in less than an hour, with 75% snapped up in less than 24 hours. The appetite for the app and six-figure revenue figure has been enough to attract £6.25m in funding from the likes of Accel, Octopus, Mustard Seed, Norrsken and angel investors.

Why OLIO made our shortlist:

As well as dealing with a major issue of unnecessary waste in UK society, the app clearly has global reach with users from 167 countries signed up and 32 countries already able to boast a successful exchange.

OLIO is targeting a billion users by 2025 and by then will have introduced other revenue lines, all of which convinced the panel that this is a business successfully combining purpose with profit.

Where to find out more about OLIO:


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