David Rabie, the Founder of Tovala, on the Future of Food Tech

Colin Keeley

David Rabie is the founder and CEO of Tovala, the creator of a smart oven that cooks perfectly made meals by baking, boiling and steaming them in under 30 minutes. The meals can either be delivered prepackaged from Tovala or be made using a crowdsourced recipe.

Last winter, Tovala graduated from Y-Combinator and a few months ago, Tovala launched a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $255,603 with over 1,000 backers. Before starting Tovala, David was an MBA at Chicago Booth, and he worked for the cofounder and CEO of Veggie Grill and ran Groovy Spoon – a bi-coastal chain of frozen yogurt stores. He also spent time working at Google and Foundation Capital.

In this episode, we talk about why David decided to pair food delivery with a smart oven, how they came up with the name Tovala, and how he found his first engineer. We also discussed how they decided on the price of the oven and the food, how they prepared for their successful Kickstarter campaign, and what they got out of Y-Combinator? Finally, we covered why they decided to come back to Chicago after Y-Combinator, why he wishes he had found a co-founder earlier, how to test for cultural fit and avoid mis-hires, and the importance of establishing connections with VCs before you need money.



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Colin Keeley is the founder and host of Tech In Chicago, an independent podcast with interviews from Chicago’s top startup founders and venture capitalists.