Freelance Feels: Conversations about self-employed life

Food waste and founding an app with Tessa Clarke from OLIO

November 5, 2021

To mark the week of the COP26 conference, I spoke to Tessa Clarke, founder of food sharing app OLIO. We talk about running a company with sustainability in mind, how much food we waste, sharing household items and the remote working world. There's so much to think about, from the food we chuck away to the things we buy such as fancy dress or seasonal 'tat'... 

Tessa says:

The ‘lightbulb’ moment came on 17th December 2014 – I remember it well. I was packing up our apartment in Switzerland, getting ready to move back to the UK. Despite our best efforts to eat everything we had, we were still left with 6 sweet potatoes, a whole white cabbage and some pots of yogurt. The removal men told me that all the food had to be thrown away, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do this. And so – much to their frustration as we still had a lot to pack up – I got my new-born baby and toddler dressed and set off armed with this food to find someone to give it to. Unfortunately, the lady who I had hoped to give it to wasn’t in her usual spot outside the supermarket and I got quite upset. I thought about knocking on my neighbours’ doors to see if they wanted it, but the problem was I didn’t know if they would be in; and even if they were in, I didn’t really know them and it might be a bit awkward if they didn’t want what I was offering. Feeling thoroughly defeated I thought to myself – “This is absolutely crazy…. this food is delicious. Why isn’t there an app where I can share it with someone nearby who wants it?” And so the idea for OLIO was born…

I told some friends & family about my idea of a food sharing app, and they all
thought I was crazy. But in February 2015 when I told Saasha, her eyes immediately lit up and we just knew that we had to work together to bring this app to life!


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