Deal: $1.6 million seed round.

Investors: The round was led by Origin Ventures, with participation from Twitch and Cruise Automation founder Kyle Vogt, Weebly founders Dan Veltri and Chris Fanini, Seamless Web and RiverPark Ventures founder Andy Appelbaum, New Stack Ventures, GREE, Y Combinator Partner Paul Buchheit and Service Provider Capital.

What they do: Tovala, a startup born out of the University of Chicago, has raised a $1.6 million seed round. The company has built a countertop “smart oven” that uses a combination of steam, baking, broiling, and convection heating to create restaurant-quality meals right from your home. The startup is also launching an accompanying meal delivery service where food is delivered weekly to a customer’s home. The idea is that Tovala allows you to enjoy fresh, healthy meals without prep or cleanup.

The oven also works independently of the meal service, and users can look up and share recipes through the Tovala app. The oven is also WiFi connected, which allows users to cook, monitor and experiment with their recipes from their phone.

Tovala founder David Rabie told Chicago Inno that he hopes Tovala will eventually replace every microwave and toaster oven in the country.

Other details: Tovala is doing a small beta launch at the end of the month, and plans to fully launch to the public in March 2017. Rabie said the company is still finalizing pricing, but expects the oven to retail between $330 and $400, with delivery costing roughly $12/meal.

In 2015, Tovala won the prestigious UChicago New Venture Challenge, a college pitch competition that’s also been won by GrubHub and Braintree. The startup was accepted into Y Combinator, and raised more than $250,000 through a Kickstarter campaign.

With the funding, Tovala has been able to increase its team to 10 full-time employees, and it bought a food truck to increase its presence in Chicago. It’s planning to drive throughout the city in November and give out free samples of its food.


Image via Tovala