About the Project
Khalid Aboujassoum, the first Qatari winner of Stars of Science, was brought up in a home where fresh and healthy home cooking was highly valued. He moved to Canada to study engineering at the University of Ottawa so maintaining a healthy lifestyle got a lot more difficult. Like any college student, Khalid did not have time to prepare nutritious meals. He didn’t want to fall for the temptations of ready-made, low-quality packaged food either so he decided to start cooking. What he needed was a fully-automated cooking genius, one which prepares quick, healthy meals. Khalid’s healthy cooking journey led him to come up with ‘Tahi.’
Tahi, now rebranded as ‘Oliver,’ is a fully-automated, smart cooking appliance. It’s combined with a smartphone app and contains pre-programmed recipes from professional chefs. Whether you’re an athlete, college student, running a household, or just plainly busy, this cooking wonder would suit you.
Beyond Stars of Science
Khalid and his innovation ‘Oliver’ have come a long way since his victory in Season 4 back in 2012. Khalid established Tahi Technologies Inc. in Qatar, filed for a patent in the US, and received a R&D grant from Qatar Development Bank (QDB). The ambitious Qatari filed for a second patent, developed a newer version of Oliver, and received another grant from both QDB and the Qatar Science & Technology Park.
2016 was a transformative year for the company. Tahi Technologies was rebranded as Else Labs. Along with his co-founder, Khalid opened a branch in Canada and expanded his company with nine employees. The dream team successfully raised 1.8 million USD from a subsidiary investment fund from QDB. The total amount raised over the past years is a stunning +3 million USD in grants and equity investments.
Another extremely successful crowdfunding campaign was launched in the fall of 2020 and Else Labs are due to fulfill the North American orders in early 2022. Khalid is thankful for investors who have supported “Oliver” as well as the different government innovation grants his project received. Partnerships and collaborations are also cooking to make users lives’ easier as well as develop and maintain a successful business. “Oliver,” which was in the middle of thorough Beta testing when the pandemic hit, is yet to launch but Khalid says they are “tracking well against their development timeline. Developing such an innovative product comes with many unknowns, and we, at Else Labs, have thoroughly enjoyed the process. The feedback we received from participants has been so valuable to the development of Oliver. Overall, Oliver users were amazed with Oliver's precision and preciseness.”
As for the Oliver app, it will have well over 200 recipes which Oliver can cook to perfection. It also will act as a nutritional guide and has a shopping list feature along with many more features the company is working on developing.
The entrepreneur has gained a lot of recognition for his work. At Seattle’s Smart Kitchen Summit in 2016, Oliver was recognized as one of the top 15 kitchen startups. Oliver was featured in various prestigious magazines, and online media such as The Business Insider, CNET, The Spoon, TechCrunch, and Fast Co Design.
When asked about future plans for Oliver, Khalid responds: “I see tremendous potential in Oliver, and the technology we have developed. The applications are endless. I have ideas; however, it is important to be strategic with any new implementations. My priority at the moment, is to ensure we deliver the Olivers to our initial backers from the crowdfunding campaign in the North American market, then Qatar and then continue expansion into the EU, Asia and the rest of the world until Oliver is in every kitchen.”
He hopes for Oliver to become the leading automated cooking appliance in the world.
“Stars of Science was created to unleash human potential. It has clearly become the manifestation of that great vision.” In his experience, the show’s unique added value for innovators is the well-rounded exposure to a product lifecycle – from concept, to design, validation, and on to going to market, commercialization and marketing. “It teaches you to ask the right questions at the right time,” Khalid added.
As for his advice to the new batch of innovators, Khalid insists that reaching the finals, being disqualified, or winning the title is secondary. “The real value is in the outcome of the journey and that is the new you.”