Saasha Celestial-One is an entrepreneur on a mission to end food waste. She is the daughter of Iowa hippy entrepreneurs, which she says explains the origin of her last name, ‘Celestial-One’ – which her parents made up! Saasha cofounded Olio with her friend Tessa Cook, which grew from an idea into an app saving thousands of food items every week.
I caught up with Sassha and asked her a few questions about her journey.
1. What is your purpose?
Over 1/3rd of all food produced goes to waste, and half of this waste takes place in our homes. Meanwhile, 800 million go to bed hungry every day and we're destroying the planet to grow food we throw in landfill. Our purpose is to stop the insanity of food waste, by connecting neighbours to share their spare instead.
2. What is unusual about your business?
The universality of the problem we're trying to solve - we all eat several meals a day, and as a species we didn't evolve to let good food go to waste. Sharing food is inherently human - it's why food goes hand in hand with celebration across cultures. The potential is huge, and we have a vision of millions of food sharing networks all around the world.
3. Who is the unsung hero of your business?
Our thousands of volunteers are at the heart of OLIO, and their passion and commitment never ceases to amaze me. Whether spreading the word in their neighbourhoods, putting up posters and handing out flyers, or rescuing unsold surplus from retailers to redistribute within their communities, OLIO wouldn't exist without them.
4. What was your business’ original mission? How has that mission evolved over time?
OLIO's original mission was "to unlock the value of food that is wasted in the home and local community". Whilst our mission remains the same, we now often make it clear what "value" we are referencing, of which there are many: the nutritional, environmental, social and economic values.
5. Why did you succeed, while so many others haven't?
Timing and sheer persistence. There are many forces at work - regulatory, consumer awareness, climate change, etc - which means public and political concern over the scandal of food waste is now at an all time high. Still, many people thought a food sharing app was crazy - but my co-founder and I simply refused to take 'no' for an answer!
This interview is part of the ‘I had a chat with...’ series.
Saasha is speaking at The Startup Summit on 1st November.