Maestro NVC Winner

Tovala, formerly called Maestro, is a smart counter-top appliance that cooks a fresh, complete meal by itself, after customers insert fresh grains, vegetables, and proteins into custom pods.

NVC Team Members: Trina Assur, MBA ‘15, Aubrey Donnellan, MBA ‘15, Helen Geddes, Kati Karottki (current student), David Rabie, MBA ‘15, Emily Theis, MBA ‘15, and Anqi Wang

Track: Traditional NVC

Year: 2015

Place: 1st Place

Prize: $70,000, including the Pritzker Group Venture Capital Fellows Award

How NVC Helped the Most: Refining our pitch and focus on what really mattered most to investors. 

Founded: 2015

Company Leadership:

  • David Rabie, MBA ‘15, CEO and founder
  • Bryan Wilcox, CTO
  • Peter Fiflis, Lead Product Engineer

Headquartered: Chicago, Illinois (USA)

Industry: Consumer Product, Food, Technology

Social Media: @tovalafood

Funding Raised: Yes (see Crunchbase)


  • Won first place at the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC) finals in May 2015 (competed under the former name Maestro)
  • Named one of four Pritzker Group Venture Capital Fellows for the 2015 summer program
  • Participated in a design sprint hosted by 2015 NVC in-kind sponsor, gravitytank, in September 2015
  • Raised a $500,000 pre-seed round of financing from several notable Midwest investors. Origin Ventures led the round, with participation from Valor Equity Partners, New Stack Ventures and a series of strategic angel investors, including Mark Tebbe, Patrick Cadariu, Craig Wortmann, and Michael Staenberg.
  • Completed a beta version of the product and have begun in-home demos
  • Built out team by making some strategic hires
  • Rebranded as Tovala in January 2015
  • Participated in Winter 2016 cohort of Y Combinator (YC W16)
  • Kickstarter campaign exceeds $100,000 goal in less than 24 hours of launch