Getting noticed

OLIO - the app that’s starting a whole new food sharing revolution

The extent of food waste — both in our own homes as well as in supermarkets — has made big news in the last few years. And it turns out, shockingly, that a third of all food grown globally is throw away!

Luckily, new app OLIO has big plans to change all of that by connecting neighbours with each other and local shops so that surplus food can be shared — either for free or for sale — not thrown away.

Already successfully launched across several London boroughs, OLIO — which is free to download — is expanding quickly with Bristol next in its sights.

So we caught up with OLIO’s Co-founder, Tessa Cook to find out more about OLIO and their latest plans to launch in Bristol.

OLIO can really help combat the big problems of wasted food, as Tessa tells us: “Users can access free (or cut-price) yummy food, make money from food that would otherwise have gone to waste, help save the environment, and meet their lovely neighbours!”

“As for local stores, OLIO offers them an online shop window that brings in new customers, increases sales and cuts the cost of food disposal. Ultimately OLIO is about communities pulling together to solve the massive problem of food waste.”

The starting point and passion for the co-founders of OLIO — Tessa Cook and Saasha Celestial-One — has always been a personal one. Tessa tells us: “I’m a farmer’s daughter and it really upsets me that a third of all food produced globally is thrown away. Saasha is the daughter of Iowa hippies and an avid freecycler and so is equally passionate about cutting waste.”

“After validating our initial assumptions through research and a simple Whatsapp pilot, we realised that by harnessing the power of mobile technology in the age of the sharing economy, OLIO could enable both households and businesses to solve the problem.”

The team’s ethically strong beginnings have quickly made their mark too. Since launching in the Crouch End area of London in July, OLIO have branched out into several further London boroughs following thousands of downloads. Not only that, but the app was chosen as Tech City News’ ‘download of the week’, and recently spent over 24 hours trending as number one in the UK App Store!

Tessa is unsurprisingly enthusiastic about this: “The feedback has been phenomenal and there’s a real sense of the community getting behind OLIO to help achieve our vision.”

But as with any new and passionate startup, there can be some hiccups on the way and we were eager to find out what OLIO would recommend to other aspiring entrepreneurs. Tessa explains: “I’ve had lots of potential business ideas, but none that I’m as passionate about as OLIO. So I’d say it’s really, really important that you feel that the problem you’re solving is your problem to solve.”

“I’ve also experienced first-hand the benefits of the ‘lean’ start-up approach and iterating quickly. Finally, everybody tells you to ‘do things that don’t scale’ in the early days, and it’s very true — we’ve spent countless days pounding the streets for OLIO — literally and metaphorically — and it’s certainly starting to pay off”.

OLIO has worked with Bristol-based web developers, Simpleweb, to build the app which had a great impact on Tessa and Sassha’s decision to expand into Bristol.

Tessa says: “We’ve been very impressed with the talent in the area. We also think that the OLIO mission will resonate with people here and are excited to have selected Bristol as our second launch city.”

Tessa also tells us about some of the Bristol-based businesses that she’s particularly impressed by: “I have huge admiration for Maplebird because of their vision and ambition. Similarly, Memberoo and Helpfulpeeps are impressive because of the strong community angle to what they’re doing and the quality of how they’re executing their plans.”

But in order to ensure the OLIO food sharing revolution is as successful in Bristol as it has been in London, the team at OLIO need your help.

Tessa explains: “Spread the word about OLIO and download the app! Because we’ll roll out in an area when we have enough downloads there, and the more people who use OLIO, the better it will be.”

You can download the OLIO app for free! Find OLIO on Google Play. Or check OLIO out at the Apple iTunes store. You can also stay in the loop with OLIO’s expansion into Bristol and beyond by following them on Twitter at: @OLIO_ex or liking the OLIO Facebook page.

TechSpark, 23 October 2015

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