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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NVC Winner Maestro Raises $500K For Its Food Tech Device, Rebrands to Tovala

logo for the tovala company“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.”

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Food tech startup Tovala announces $500,000 in seed funding

photo of the tovala oven“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.”

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The merging of two universities: How one founder found his team halfway across the state.

Tovala founder speaks

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.”

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