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Tovala disrupts the meal-kit industry with an IoT connected smart oven

Tovala delivers a revolutionary kitchen experience by pairing Twilio’s Electric Imp IoT platform and Twilio Segment to perfect an intuitive cooking device

The Results
meals per month, on average, cooked by Tovala users.
minute prep time for a healthy, home-cooked meal
customer satisfaction rate

Meal kits make healthy eating easier for busy consumers, and have grown in popularity. Globally, the meal-kit delivery industry was valued at over $15 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow annually at a rate of over 17% from 2022-2030. The convenience of pre-sourced, fresh ingredients to pair with a recipe takes a significant amount of stress out of the meal.

Consumers of most meal kits are still faced with 1-2 hours of combined prep and clean-up time. Add to that the lack of extra ingredients to “re-make” the meal if it’s overcooked or dry. These hiccups in the streamlining of a home-cooked meal seemed unavoidable - until Tovala entered the kitchen.

Delivering fresh, impossible convenience

Co-Founder and CEO, David Rabie founded Tovala in 2015.  This food delivery service was created specifically for people who value their time but seek healthy food options.  Their fresh meal delivery service is paired with a “smart oven” that allows easy replication of a culinary experience that’s been perfected in Tovala test kitchens by accomplished chefs.

Their high-level customer experience is made possible through a cutting-edge “scan to cook” feature built into every dish.  Each meal comes individually packaged and with the simple scan of a QR code, Tovala’s WiFi-connected smart oven prepares fresh, Tovala Meals in 20 minutes or less. 

Having an internet-connected product allowed us to tweak and design cook cycles in our test kitchen and ensure that this oven is actually going to recreate that exact same experience easily in the customer’s home.

Peter Fiflis, SVP Technology R & D, Tovala

Creating the “smartest” oven

Prototyping a cloud-connected oven that could be updated remotely might have been a time-consuming, costly experience. Tovala’s team didn’t want to spend the time or money to develop necessary IoT infrastructure in-house that would not have been core to their market differentiation.  Doing so would delay their time-to-market.

They needed a cooking device that could eliminate the possibility of user error.  The device needed to be capable of evolving with Tovala’s growing menu, allow for firmware updates that wouldn’t break delivered devices, and also provide customer data insight.  They sought a technology partner that could help them reliably shuttle all of this data from the oven to the cloud, and then to appropriate analytics platforms without building custom API integrations for every need.

Users scan QR codes for the recipe at hand

Electric Imp and Segment become sous-chefs

Tovala’s team chose a suite of Twilio products that accelerated their time to market.  Twilio Electric Imp provided out-of-the-box, end-to-end internet connectivity, device hardware, wireless certification, and cloud infrastructure.  The Electric Imp-powered microcontroller embedded in each oven allowed Tovala’s cloud to talk directly to the oven and vice versa.  The device can pull cook cycles from the cloud for each customer’s meal.  It can receive firmware updates over-the-air (OTA) and send oven events, such as end-of-cook cycle notifications, to the cloud. Tovala’s team can even prevent an oven from completing the cook cycle for a product that may contain a recalled ingredient or allergen, providing a food safety net that other meal kits cannot.  These capabilities allow continuous, remote product improvement, all while the oven sits on a customer’s countertop. 

Customers can even create and store their own personally created cook cycles in a convenient mobile application.  The app places meal ordering, payment, meal reviews, and menu updates right at consumers’ fingertips. Tovala designed their app to act as more than just a ‘remote’ for the oven.  It’s a portal for world-class customer engagement with convenient interaction between the app, the oven, and the consumer.

Tovala uses Segment, Twilio’s customer data platform, to tie oven data together with customer data from various other systems.  Segment works hand-in-hand with The Twilio IoT platform’s cloud infrastructure to shuttle oven data to any system of record that Tovala deploys to run their operation. 

The customer experience is further personalized with Twilio Messaging.  It adds an additional preferred channel for customers to opt into, allowing them to engage through SMS when reviewing or receiving notifications.

IoT and the Tovala product ecosystem

Tovala’s IoT-connected oven has helped to create a complete product ecosystem.  By bringing to life the Voice of the Product (VoP) and the Voice of the Customer (VoC), Tovala has been able to combine the two for easy Customer Feedback Management (CFM).

A great example of this partnership’s capabilities comes to life with one of the methods Tovala uses to collect reviews.  When a consumer scans a barcode, the oven communicates that event to the cloud.  It’s pushed to Segment which prompts a review request to be sent to the consumer in near real-time through their mobile app. 

This expeditious review request increases completion and accuracy.  The reviews are used by Tovala’s kitchen experts to adjust and further perfect cook cycles and flavors, making the consumer an active participant in product development and menu curation.

Food options for users of the Tovala oven

The oven’s connectivity also helps improve customer service. Thanks to the IoT functionality, Tovala’s customer support team gets a real-time, inside look at oven activity. Being able to review log files directly helps Tovala determine a root cause without the need for a lengthy explanation from customers.  This often leads to easier troubleshooting and a more rapid time-to-resolution for customer issues.

The biggest benefit to us has been the product itself. The reliable internet connectivity allows us to craft an incredible product experience across multiple platforms and to change, be reactive and evolve the product as we go. That wouldn’t have been possible without the Twilio platform.

Peter Fiflis, SVP Technology R & D, Tovala

Without having to worry about building out IoT infrastructure, Tovala could focus on creating a seamless, interactive customer experience that has led to a 90% meal satisfaction rate and superior retention metrics.

Learn how Electric Imp and Segment can bring security, OTA device updates, and customizability for your IoT device. Talk to a Twilio IoT expert now.

Interested in purchasing a Tovala oven? Claim your discount at www.tovala.com/twilio! 😊