Tovala's service includes a smart oven that may cook meals through the company's meal delivery service.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. – The investment branch of Tyson Foods Inc. has made an undisclosed investment in Chicago-based Tovala, which makes steam-based ovens and markets them with meal kit subscription services. The startup company, then known as Maestro, launched its cloud-based, label-scanning “smart” oven in 2015 and soon added the meal kit subscription offering after winning the Univ. of Chicago’s New Venture Challenge, garnering interest from investors and venture capitalists.

Tyson Ventures joins other investors, including Morningstar Inc.’s Joe Mansueto, the Pritzker Group, Origin Ventures, restauranteur Larry Levy and Y Combinator in the Series A round of funding.

“Our venture capital fund was created to invest in promising entrepreneurs who are on the cutting edge of innovation in the food industry,” said Justin Whitmore, Tyson Foods’ executive vice president of corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer.

Consumers may use Tovala's app to find recipes specifically formulated for preparation in the oven.
Funding from the latest round is slated to be used as an investment in Tovala’s next growth stage, which includes hiring employees, expansion of facilities, products, technologies and marketing campaigns.

“Our investment in Tovala gives us another opportunity to explore new ways of meeting consumer demand and shape the future of food. We look forward to our collaboration,” said Whitmore.

Tovala co-founder, David Rabie, said his company’s mission is to bring convenience and quality food to consumers eating at home.

Tovala offers a range of meals. such as Jamaican jerk turkey chili.
“By controlling the experience end-to-end including the hardware, software, and food, our customers benefit by not having to sacrifice convenience, health or taste,” he said. “We’re excited to work with Tyson Foods to explore bringing a wider variety of meals to our customers’ homes."

The latest partnership comes on the heels of Tyson Ventures announcing its investment in Memphis Meats, which produces meat grown from animal cells. The company has also invested in two rounds of funding in plant-based protein manufacturer, Beyond Meat, based in El Segundo, California.