Success Stories

Oven of the Future

Tovala creator Ben Barnes on CI LivingBen Barnes, Tovala Smart Oven Chief Engineer, demonstrates the product on the show CI Living, which airs on WCIA Channel 3, Champaign-Urbana’s CBS affiliate.

Tovala launches Smart Oven

Tovala Smart OvenAmericans are constantly on the go. Oftentimes because of a long workday and perhaps activities in the evening, eating right takes a back seat. Answering the quest for healthy food made quickly are the makers of the Tovala Smart Oven.

Tovala, co-founded by a University of Illinois graduate with a PhD in mechanical science and engineering (Bryan Wilcox) and an MBA graduate of the University of Chicago’s Booth School (David Rabie), officially launches its smart oven to the public July 11 after several rounds of seed funding and months of Beta testing.

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This startup wants to lay the groundwork for future IoT startups

photo of anansi founders“Their original idea was to make a wearable device that would detect a user’s fight-or-flight responses and summon first responders automatically. But in building out the software suite that would power their solution, the co-founders got to thinking about how much time engineering teams at every wearable company spend just on getting the fundamentals in place.

“We hypothesized that others who want to get to development faster would also see value in our toolset,” said Parikh. “Now our focus is entirely on building out the tools for other people to build cool applications on top of our platform.””

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Origin dishes up $1.6 million to kitchen gear maker Tovala

“Tovala is getting ready to start shipping its novel consumer cooking device and meal service later this year. It raised $1.6 million, led by Chicago-based Origin Ventures, which backed Grubhub. Like Tovala, originally called Maestro Food, Grubhub was a 2015 winner of the New Venture Challenge business-plan competition at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.”

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Explorer Surgical, Chicago-based health tech startup, raises $1 million

ct-explorer-surgical-seed-funding-bsi-20160913-001Explorer Surgical, which aims to be an interactive playbook for surgeons and staff, has raised a $1 million to bring it a step closer to use in operating rooms.

The company’s software displays step-by-step instructions and equipment needed for a particular surgery. It also helps hospital administrators see how surgeries are progressing and forecast the need for surgical supplies and equipment, staffing and room use.

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New Money: UChicago-Born ‘RegTech’ Startup Ascent Raises a Seed Round

“Ascent was a finalist in the 2015 New Venture Challenge and won $10,000 at the prestigious University of Chicago startup competition. The company said it will use the new funding to improve its platform and grow its team.

“We’re confident in our platform’s ability to dramatically simplify compliance processes for firms, and we’re eager to build upon this momentum to continue constructing the most comprehensive solution possible for our clients,” CEO Brian Clark said in a statement. “We understand the challenges of operating in a highly regulated industry and are dedicated to helping our clients protect their businesses by saving them time, saving them money, and reducing their risk.””

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12 UChicago Startups Will Grow Through This Year’s Polsky Summer Accelerator

photo of the exowear team“For the past four years, University of Chicago’s Polsky Center has held a summer accelerator as a way to grow student startups over summer break.

Over 40 teams have gone through the program to date, and 75 percent of these companies are still in business or have been acquired, including FitnessCubedZipFit DenimMoneythink, and Stylisted.

ExoWear is a health and fitness company made up of UChicago and UIUC students that creates wearables to monitor medical exercises of patients undergoing physical therapy. This device serves as a coaching aid by reminding the patient to complete their exercises and providing real-time feedback. The application of the device will focus on knee therapy and rehabilitation.”

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Y Combinator smart countertop appliance launches Kickstarter.

photo of meat in a tray from tovala oven“It’s been less than a year since David Rabie, MBA ’15, and his automated smart-cooker took home the first place title and a $70,000 prize at the Edward L. Kaplan New Venture Challenge (NVC), but he and his company, now known as Tovala, has seen a world of changes.”

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30 Startups Move Forward in University of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge 2016

photo of anansi founders“The annual startup competition run by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business (which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year) just announced the 30 startups moving forward in the 2016 New Venture Challenge.

Anansi is creating wearable tech focused on safety. Their first product detects your body’s “fight or flight” response and automatically sends alert messages with GPS coordinates to emergency services, friends, or family (here’s more from a story we wrote in October).”

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A new source of startup funding: ‘Doctorpreneurs’

“Even though he was still in residency, Dr. Jay Joshi didn’t hesitate to launch a startup. Now he’s funding them, too.

The Chicago “doctorpreneur” has assembled a group of about 30 physicians to fund health care-related startups at the earliest stages. His pitch is simple: Doctors generally have capital and need to diversify their finances beyond their own practices and the stock market. Meanwhile, one of the biggest barriers for health care entrepreneurs is finding investors comfortable enough with the sector.”

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