Interview with David Rabie
Chicagoan entrepreneur and former Google intern, David Rabie is CEO & Co-founder of Tovala , a product-service system built around a steam oven that can take a digital recipe and a carton of pre-prepped ingredients, and turn them into haute cuisine.
Check out our exclusive Q&A session with David:
What’s the difference between Tovala and a Michelin Star chef?
There really isn’t a difference between a Michelin Star chef and our Tovala, and it’s because a lot of our culinary team has trained and worked at Michelin Star restaurants, so they bring that skillset to our meals and make it relatable, and still as delicious as it might be in a great restaurant.
You use 100% recyclable materials in your packaging. How important is this to your audience? Is this something that’s now expected of most new food brands?
We do use 100% recyclable materials, it is something that people are really concerned and ask about and it core to our mission of not only making it easier for people to live better but doing good to the world.
QR codes are coming back in a big way, and they’re used by Tovala’s smart oven to read cooking instructions. Why did you decide on this technology to deliver your product? Were you thinking about your brand image as well as the functionality itself?
We know QR codes are coming back in a big way, ultimately we used them for two reasons. The first, from a user’s experience point of view it was easy and reliable and there is something magical about scanning a QR code and having that delivered information. The second, from a technology point of view, it delivered everything we needed, so we are not surprised there is a reseurgence in the use of QR code.
What makes a great brand for the kitchen?
I think a great brand for the kitchen has to stand for something that people can relate to and not diverge from that. For us it is about making it easier for people to eat better and using technology and clean ingredients to drive that issue.
Kitchenware seems to be a popular application of smart tech in the home. Do you agree? If so, why do you think this is the case?
I do agree that kitchenware is one of the popular categories of smart technology, but we’re only just at the cusp of seeing smart technology embedded in kitchen appliances. The reason is that we need to find real utility for the smart tech and we think we’ve found it with Tovala. Embedding smart tech into the oven allows us to change our recipes on weekly bases and improve your oven every week, to deliver a great app experience where we’re adding pre-sets and making it easier for you to cook better, and to really take full advantage of the fact the oven is connected to Wi-Fi.
What gave you the inspiration to combine smart ovens and home food delivery into the same service? We expect each side of the equation requires very different capabilities and expertise?
The inspiration for Tovala, which combines on the hardware side smart technology and food, with the software as the glue behind everything, came from a pain point.
I wanted to eat food that was healthy, convenient, delicious, and did not require any decision-making, and I wanted to do it quickly. The only way to solve that problem was to control everything from the sourcing of the ingredients to exactly how they’re cooked, so that I can enjoy the same meal that our chefs make in our test kitchen, anywhere in the world, at any time.
Some food delivery networks – for example, Just Eat and Uber Eats – expand their service provision on a city-by-city basis. Can Tovala do the same?
We are very different than Uber Eats and Just Eat and some of these on-demand services. We serve the entire continental United States, all 48 states can order a meal. Today we have customers in each state!