Tovala, the smart countertop oven plus prepared meal kit service, today announced that it has raised a $9.2 million Series A round of funding led by Origin Ventures. This brings the total amount raised by Tovala to $13.14 million.
The money will be used to grow both its user base and the company. In an interview, Co-Founder and CEO David Rabie said Tovala currently has 24 full time employees and will grow to 40 – 50 people across all departments over the next year. Additionally, Tovala will look to add a second production facility on the West Coast to reduce shipping times.
The funding comes at an interesting time for the meal kit space. Blue Apron has stumbled since going public earlier this year. Meal kit companies like Nomsly are becoming more specialized. And more companies like First Chop are offering a similar hardware and meal kit combination services. Oh, and giants like Amazon and Walmart are poised to make a huge impact.
Rabie, however, believes that Tovala has struck the right balance freshness, taste and convenience for customers. Unlike Blue Apron, Tovala preps and par cooks the meals for you, and the cloud-connected steam oven cooks the whole meal at once with the push of a button.
While he wouldn’t give specific stats, Rabie says that there are Tovala users in all 48 continental United States ranging from 23 year old grad students to 85 year olds. Tovala also plans to invest more in its community tools over the next year so people can share their recipes and experiences.
Our own experience with the Tovala was mixed. Writing for The Spoon, Tovala Kickstarter backer, Richard Gunther, thought the food was delicious but the functionality was limited and clean up was difficult.
Rabie said that they would be open to partnering with outside meal kit services and have gotten a lot of inbound interest, but it’s not a part of any near term plans. There are also no near-term plans for a second-gen oven. It’s something Rabie says they’ve thought about, but if they were to do something, it wouldn’t be significantly different.
The current Tovala oven sells for $399 as a standalone device, with the price dropping to $299 if you order four box meals and $199 if you order 24 box meals.