How Olio became Olio
The world’s favourite local sharing app
“I saw first-hand how much effort goes into producing our food”
Growing up on a dairy farm in Yorkshire, there was always work to be done. Feeding cows, mucking out stalls, moving stock – late into the evening, 365 days a year. That’s the level of graft it takes to produce the food we eat. And that’s why I believe so strongly that food should be eaten, not thrown away.
“The removal men were stood there with a bin liner, but I couldn’t do it”
I had a lightbulb moment when moving house. We’d tried to get through everything in the fridge, but we still had 6 sweet potatoes, a whole white cabbage and a few pots of yoghurt. I set off knocking on doors around the neighbourhood, newborn and toddler in tow, thinking this is crazy. There must be an easier way to share surplus food.
And so the concept for Olio was born. When I told Saasha a few months later, her eyes lit up. We knew we had to make it happen. We had to do something about the fact that ⅓ of food produced globally is wasted – and half of that happens in the home.
“I learned early on that one person’s trash is truly another’s treasure”
I’m the daughter of Iowa hippy entrepreneurs – hence the unusual last name. We were a big, relatively poor family and I spent much of my childhood following my mom around on salvage missions. We rescued what others had discarded, wood from abandoned houses, plants left in dumpsters, aluminium soda cans (worth 5¢ a pop!). Waste wasn’t an option.
“I’m passionate about the food industry”
As a teenager I launched dozens of my own little businesses, and I always dreamed of becoming a real entrepreneur. When Tessa told me about her genius idea for a food sharing app, I instantly knew I wanted to be a part of it. It took us an hour to choose the name and make our plan. We dream big and move fast at Olio.
For the prototype, Tessa and Saasha started small. 12 people from a single neighbourhood were put in a WhatsApp chat and invited to offer out any food that would otherwise have gone unused.
At first, nothing happened.
Then suddenly, someone posted half a bag of shallots.
Those shallots became a catalyst for a flurry of posts. It seemed that once people started sharing they just couldn’t stop.
In the feedback group 2 weeks later, the response was unanimous: ”You have to build this app”
Mums on a mission
Today, Olio is about sharing not only food, but anything around the house not getting the use it deserves – from boots to Bratz dolls.
And what started as a food sharing app amongst a few postcodes in North London now has millions of users across the world.
But this is just the beginning.
Olio represents the belief that we all have the power to do something small, to bring about meaningful change for our communities and the planet.
That’s why Olio isn’t just an app fighting waste. It’s a movement for optimism.
And it all began with one mum’s refusal to throw away a cabbage,
some yoghurt and a bunch of sweet potatoes.