P&Q’s Top MBA Startups: Revolutionizing Home Cooking

A pre-cooked Tovala box meal made of thai turkey meatballs

The Tovala oven on its own retails at $399 and the cost reduces when you tag on a six or 12 month meal deal. One meal box on its own, not attached to a meal plan, contains three meals each and costs $36 or $72 dollars depending on if it’s a single serving box or double.

While he wouldn’t disclose how many customers Tovala is currently serving, or revenue figures, he had this to say: “Profitability is hard in the industry because customer lifetime values are so low and because it takes a lot of money to acquire customers. Most companies are profitable on a per-meal basis. While I can’t speak to specific numbers, this is one area where we feel like we have a strong advantage over traditional meal kits.”


Rabie says the lessons learned during his journey as an entrepreneur have been plentiful; but the primary one being persistence. “You’re going to get told ‘no’ so many times by so many different people. That’s a running theme that never goes away. People think the idea is crazy, they say you’ll never raise money, or you’ll never be able to do it. Hearing ‘no’ is a common thing for entrepreneurs so being okay with it and using it as fuel is hyper important.”

He also credits his time in business school as another key factor to where Tovala is today. “A lot of people don’t think about business schools as launching pads for businesses. They mostly think of it as getting jobs or getting a better job. But if you have the entrepreneur focus and lens, there’s a lot of value to going into business school to launch a company. Similar to recruiting resources for jobs, business schools are filled with a lot of resources for would-be entrepreneurs. And because everyone is mostly utilizing the career services resources, you become a big fish in a small pond that can fully capitalize on the entrepreneurship opportunities that are there.”

Still, Rabie cautions MBAs not to let the abundance of resources become a distraction to their startup. “Connections can be made and doors can be opened through things like networking and meeting people, but in the early days all of this can be a huge distraction when you should just be focused on the product. Some of it is valuable, but having intense focus on your product and customer is so important when you’re first getting started.”

Thai turkey meatballs from the Tovala oven in less than 30 minutes


As Tovala’s first tweet of 2018 reads, “Last year we delivered to our Kickstarter backers, launched & announced our Series A. We’re excited to continue to deliver many more meals in 2018!” it’s an indication that Rabie and the Tovala team hope the year ahead is one of promise and continued growth.

“There will be a lot of new menu additions and a lot of new enhancements to automate your own cooking, he says. “People love the meal service, but where we really want to expand is cooking their own food, opening up the magic of the machine, and making that easy for everyone.”

Likewise, while the company often uses the tagline, “Dinner is solved,” Rabie says it’s not just dinner the company wants to solve, but also breakfast and lunch. “We plan to expand to other meals; not in next six months, but, yes, in the next 12 to 18 months. Customers are definitely asking for it.”

Beyond 2018, the Tovala mission is grand. “We see ourselves in ideally every home in the country one day,” Rabie says. “That may take different shapes than it does today, but we have a long road ahead of us.”


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