Appetite for OLIO increases with $43m funding

London-based food community startup OLIO closes $43m Series B funding round.

OLIO co-founders Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One                                 
OLIO co-founders Tessa Clarke (left) and Saasha Celestial-One – Photo: OLIO

London-based food community start-up OLIO has raised $43m (£31.2m) in a Series B funding round to fuel international expansion and the development of its Food Waste Hero programme. 

The round was led by Swedish firm VNV Global and New York-based hedge fund Lugard Road Capital, with participation from Accel, Octopus Ventures, Alumni Ventures and Flight Ventures among other notable investors.

Commenting on the funding, OLIO’s co-founder Tessa Clarke said: “We’re beyond thrilled to have raised this capital from a brilliant set of investors who are backing our vision of reinventing consumption.“

Driven to reduce food waste

Founded in 2015 by Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One, OLIO is a mobile app on a mission to reduce food waste and save thousands of food items from being thrown away.

It connects users with neighbours and local businesses so additional food can be shared for free instead of being wasted. Users upload a photo to the app of an unwanted item and state when and where it will be available to pick up. The listings show up in a similar format to online marketplaces and can be requested via private messaging.

OLIO has now surpassed five million users on its mobile app and saved more than 25 million portions of food from going into landfill. Since launch, the app has also broadened its offering to include the sharing of household items, such as kitchen appliances, toiletries and books.  

Global aspirations

The ultimate objective of the app is to enable millions of hyper-local food sharing networks around the world where nothing of value goes to waste. Clarke said: “We have this enormous ambition because humanity cannot continue to puzzle over how to keep global warming within 1.5°C and feed a population of 10 billion – while continuing to throw away one third of the food we produce, and consuming as if we have 1.75 planets. In solving these twin problems, we aim to build one of the most transformational companies of our generation.”

Per Brillioth, CEO of VNV Global, which led the round, added that the start-ups growth is “nothing short of phenomenal” as consumers are becoming increasingly focused on the small actions they can take to improve the sustainability of their households and connect with their local communities.

The investment will be used to fuel international expansion with a focus on Latin America, northern Europe and Asia as well as scaling the OLIO team from 40 to more than 175 over the next two years. 

Further reading: Global food prices at highest in over a decade, reveals UN

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