Tovala is out to win the war for counter space.
The company launched the second-generation of its smart steam oven today, which is 15 percent smaller than its predecessor and weighs about half as much. The new oven has been given a sleek redesign and features more physical buttons and improved steam venting to make it easier to store under cabinets.
“Giving people the ability to do a lot more with the oven helps them justify the counter space,” said CEO David Rabie. “This last year has really been about gathering feedback to improve the product in every phase.”
Rabie said there was more the team wanted to do with the design of the oven prior to launching in the summer of 2017. But the ultimate goal was to prove that Tovala’s product would consistently work and that the food would taste good. Once those points were proved, the team began ironing out the design kinks.
The biggest goal was to make the oven easier to store and carry. The team managed to cut the oven’s footprint and weight significantly without impacting the size of the cooking chamber. Customers also wanted to do more using the oven’s controls instead of having to rely on the accompanying app, which can control all functions and settings.
“I think we skewed a little too tech-forward with the first-gen oven,” said Rabie. “We were overly reliant on the app. Sometimes you just want to pop some cookie dough into the oven and bake for 10 minutes, and that’s just easier if you have buttons.”
Just because cooking offline is easier doesn’t mean the new oven is dumber. The team made it easier to connect to Wi-Fi and also added Bluetooth. Aside from the design tweaks, the second-gen oven works the same as the first generation. Users can purchase meals from Tovala and upload their recipes to the oven by scanning a barcode on the packaging, or they can manually prepare their meals using pre-loaded recipes on the app or on their own. The oven features steam, baking, broiling and reheating functions.
The average customer uses their oven almost 20 times a month.”
“The average customer uses their oven almost 20 times a month, which is more than really any other appliance they have in their homes,” said Rabie. “We’ve started to hit a tipping point where there’s enough customers out there and the momentum is really building off of itself. Word of mouth is our most powerful vehicle for growth.”
Tovala’s menu features eight new meal options each week, including three gluten-free and two vegetarian dishes. The company will offer 10 meal options per week by year’s end. Tovala’s team, which has a full-time headcount of 40, will also be expanding in size soon. Rabie said the growing company has started looking for a larger office in Chicago.
The second-generation Tovala steam oven is on sale now for $349. Those who order 100 meals within a year of their purchase receive a $100 discount on the oven.