“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.”
“For David Rabie, ’15, taking home first place and $70,000 from the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC) program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business last May provided him with credibility and the contacts he needed to do what most entrepreneurs fear most — fundraise. ”
“Last spring the startup won University of Chicago’s annual New Venture Challenge, taking home $70,000 to fund the development of its kitchen appliance that simultaneously cooked individual pods of ingredients to create a healthy meal in under 30 minutes (at the time it was dubbed “a Keurig meets crockpot”). After six months of product development, a $500,000 round raised, and a rebrand, the device and business look a little different, but founder David Rabie believes it still holds the key to getting healthy food on the table fast.”
“All of our engineering talent is either out of the U of I or closely tied to the U of I,” says David Rabie, who was a part of the first collaboration between Booth and Engineering at Illinois in October of 2014. “That meeting opened my eyes to the potential and I kept my ears to the ground for engineering talent from Urbana-Champaign. It is something that we are particularly proud about, especially considering our investors are tied to both universities.”
“For Chicago Booth grad and founder of Maestro, David Rabie, ’15, he knew his idea was a good one from the beginning. “The questions were more in the execution,” he confesses.
And, for a company that aims to become the “Keurig for food,” finding the right way to execute is understandably the most important first step. Like a single-cup coffee maker, Maestro is a smart countertop appliance that uses different fresh-food custom pods to cook entire meals at once.”