Olio founders Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One
A British app that encourages people to give away excess food has raised $43m (£31m) from investors including German takeaway giant Delivery Hero.
Olio, founded in 2015 by Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One – whose second name was invented by her “hippy entrepreneur” parents – has 5m users who collect and distribute food that is going to waste in their neighbourhood.
The start-up has signed up deals with Tesco and Booker, which pay Olio to collect food near the end of its shelf life to give it away for free.
Olio claims to have saved 17m portions of food, which users of its app can collect in their community. It has 30,000 volunteers who help collect and give away food safely.
Having founded the business after hiding “six sweet potatoes and a cabbage” in her luggage while moving house, Ms Clarke said now big businesses increasingly wanted to work with Olio to help cut down on throwing away food. Globally, rotting food accounts for up to 10pc of carbon emissions.
She said: “Businesses are on a race to net zero, they want to work with us given the enormous environmental impact of food waste.”
Olio’s new funding comes from the Swedish investment firm VNV Global, New York hedge fund Lugard Road Capital and current investors including Accel and Octopus Ventures.
Investors also include DX Ventures, the investing arm of the German food delivery giant Delivery Hero.
Duncan Mcintyre, of DX Ventures, said: “We look forward to helping Olio grow and expand its global footprint.”
“We are absolutely thrilled to be working with Delivery Hero,” Ms Clarke said. “At the moment 80pc of our activity is in the UK, but there is also 20pc overseas. A large part of this raise is scaling internationally.”
Ms Clarke said while she was a “card carrying capitalist”, she sympathised with Extinction Rebellion’s view that “time is running out” to tackle climate change.
However, she argued people needed to be encouraged to take small actions to reduce their impact on the environment, rather than being forced into dramatic lifestyle changes.
She added that despite its efforts, the UK Government was “doing poorly” on climate change and that it was “not acceptable to boast about how well we are doing relative to everyone else”.
She said claims the UK had reduced climate emissions by 44pc was misleading, as it omitted emissions from imports.