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Startup Showcase: Entrepreneur Meets Restaurateur with New App

Each month the James J. Hill Center interviews 1 Million Cup presenters for the Startup Showcase feature in the Pioneer Press.  Recently we connected with presenter Taranvir Johal. See interview as seen in the Pioneer Press Startup Showcase originally posted on June 30, 2018. 

Talent defies age when it comes to entrepreneurship and 18 year old Taranvir Johal is proof of that. He already owns one company and has developed an app for another. With his eye on the game and his passion clear, Johal loves to “get his hands dirty.” With his new restaurant app Tavolo, he is jumping on the trend of transforming the restaurant experience.

In its first restaurant industry trends report, Skift Megatrends 2018, Skift Table says “restaurants are also looking to new technology to both enhance and — in some cases — define the in-restaurant dining experience … Touch-screen ordering, cashless transactions, and more personalization can make the experience more exciting for a guest.”

Johal has certainly taken a seat at the table and looked ahead at what restaurants need to be successful and his app Tovolo may just be the answer to fight the delivery boom.


Name: Taranvir Johal
Age: 18
City of Birth: Queens, N.Y.
City you live in: Fargo, N.D.
High School Attended: Oak Grove Lutheran High School
College attended: University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management


Name of company: Tavolo
Website: Tavoloapp.co
Twitter: @tavolo_app
Business Start Date: March 25, 2018
Number of Employees: 4



Q. What led to this point?
A. I am an 18-year-old aspiring entrepreneur that loves to get his hands dirty. I am from Fargo, N.D., and fell in love with entrepreneurship while I was in high school. During my sophomore year, I attended the Yale Young Global Scholars program and met numerous individuals who were pursuing their passions. They inspired me to learn more about what I wanted to do with my life. During my senior year, I participated in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy and launched my first company, Protein+. I just completed my freshman year at the Carlson School of Management and am extremely excited to see what the future has in store.

Q. What is your business?
A. Tavolo is an application that allows users to reserve a table, order, and pay at restaurants through their mobile devices. Moreover, Tavolo provides data to restaurants regarding how specific customers tip, server ratings and reviews, turn time per table, customer preferences, and customer profiles.

Q. Where do you go for help when you need it?
A. We have created an advisory board with individuals who are more experienced and have more business knowledge than us. We selected these people over the course of two months and tried to incorporate individuals who we believed could help propel our company forward.

Q. What is the origin of the business?
A. Our company started during TechStars Startup Weekend. Abdi Hassan, a junior at the University of St. Thomas, pitched the idea to us and (we) loved it. We ended up winning 2nd place at the event and began meeting with numerous entrepreneurs around Minneapolis who loved our idea as well. This eventually led us to speak at 1 Million Cups Saint Paul.

Q. What problems does your business solve?
A. Our business minimizes the time wasted while dining out at restaurants. Tavolo gives users full control of their dining experience. With the click of a button a consumer can order their food, request for a waiter, and even pay for their meal.

Q. Where did you pivot in your company’s journey? What big obstacle or hurdle did you have to overcome?
A. We initially wanted to be an application that allows users to order and pay for their meals prior to arriving to the restaurant. We eventually realized that consumers enjoy adding more items to their meal while they are dining. We decided to pivot and allow users to pay for their meals once they we done dining. We also learned that consumers dislike waiting for their server to come to their table. Therefore, we pivoted by creating a feature on the app that allows users to call their waiter simply by tapping their phone screen….READ FULL ARTICLE



You can hear from startups like this one each Wednesday, 9-10 a.m. at the James J. Hill Center during 1 Million Cups St. Paul. The James J. Hill Center is a nonprofit in downtown St. Paul that provides access to business research, educational programming and a place to work. The Hill is open to the public 8AM – 4PM, Monday-Thursday. To keep updated on what startup is presenting next or to apply to present, visit www.jjhill.org


Patrons with accessibility needs please access our ground floor elevator entrance via Kellogg Ave at the back of the building. Please ring the doorbell on the right hand side of door and a Hill staff member will assist you. If you have questions or concerns please call 651.265.5500. We look forward to having you visit.