UKTN Podcast ep4: How Oddbox grew ‘wonky’ veg deliveries to 3 million customers

UKTN Podcast Oddbox

Episode four of the UKTN Podcast is out now. This week’s guest is Emilie Vanpoperinghe, co-founder and CEO of Oddbox, a company fighting food waste with a subscription service for ‘wonky’ fruit and veg.

During the show, Vanpoperinghe tells UKTN Podcast host Mark Mcdonagh how Oddbox grew from just 20 subscriptions in 2016 to three million in 2022.

The London-based company saw a huge surge in demand during the UK’s first pandemic-induced lockdown in 2020.

“Suddenly, there was the announcement of lockdown and within a week we saw ten times the traffic we were experiencing previously,” Vanpoperinghe says. “And with just existing customers we almost doubled the number of boxes we had to deliver.”

For most businesses, this would mean full steam ahead. But Oddbox made a surprising decision – it took its website down.

“We wanted to take advantage of that huge increase in demand, but we needed to do it right,” explains Vanpoperinghe.

Vanpoperinghe breaks down the thinking behind that decision, and tells the UKTN Podcast the steps the company took to ensure it scaled in the right way – from investing in software to re-evaluating logistics.

Scaling requires capital. But how that capital is accrued is different for every business. Vanpoperinghe shares how Oddbox bootstrapped for two years, before securing capital from angel investors and crowdfunding.

“Because we bootstrapped we’ve always had a very keen eye on profitability,” says Vanpoperinghe. “For us it’s always been about sustainable growth in all sense of the terms – environmental and financial.”

Oddbox then went on to raise more than £19m from VCs across two rounds. Vanpoperinghe explains how she decided the time was right to turn to institutional investors, having received some 50% of its crowdfunding from customers.

That community growth has been key for Oddbox, with word spreading organically at the dinner table and customers referring friends and family.

Vanpoperinghe, who is originally from northern France and has been in the UK for the past 10 years, shares her approach to data-driven marketing and reveals what’s next for Oddbox.

You can listen to all this and more in the latest episode of the UKTN Podcast here.

The UKTN Podcast is sponsored by  Uncapped, which provides no-equity investments from £10,000 to £5m to the founders and companies who are changing the world.