In our never-ending quest to stay at the forefront of taco technology, we previously told you about Flatev, the automatic pod-based tortilla maker. Our search for the latest and most fascinating developments in the taco lifestyle have led us to Nuni, a toaster dedicated to the most important bread in your home– the tortilla. Created by Mexican-American entrepreneur Elliot Benitez, the device launches today on IndieGoGo and at CE Week in New York City. This product showcases the ingenuity of the next generation of entrepreneurs, who look for underserved markets to create new products and opportunities. We got a chance to discuss the product and its launch with its creator…
What was the original inspiration for the product?
I set out on a tortilla toasting journey several years ago in an effort to help make my Mom’s life easier. Growing up in a Mexican household you eat tortillas almost every day. The problem was that my Ma (cue Chicago accent) spent most of her time preparing tortillas over a comal, when she should have been enjoying her meal.
By determining the amount of time it takes to warm a tortilla, I was able to calculate my mother had spent 60 days over the past 20 years warming batches of tortillas for our family. This loss of time has become the catalyst for the Nuni Toaster.
How difficult was it to build the prototype?
The learning curve was definitely steep and it took a little bit for me to learn product development is more of a journey than a destination. Full disclosure – I am not an engineer; my background is actually in marketing. As marketers, the first thing we need to do is identify a need in the marketplace. Well, that part was easy because pretty much every Mexican family I knew ate tortillas.
I was also taught in Business school to outsource to specialists whenever feasible. After raising a seed round of investment between some family members, I began to recruit a team of patent lawyers, engineers, designers, and advisors to push the project forward. My role was to bring it all together and create a product through the eyes of the consumer. The results of these efforts is the world’s first tortilla toaster.
What is your favorite place to get a taco?
Living in Chicago it’s difficult to say because new places are popping up all the time! I for sure got my favorite spots like L’Patron (2815 W. Diversey Ave, Chicago) and Taqueria Traspasadas (811 N Ashland Ave, Chicago), but the other day this new joint called el Comalito (2234 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60647) opened up and the tacos their rocked!!
How does the Nuni improve the flavor of a taco?
Great question! For starters it’ll be the first time you have a tortilla that’s been warmed on both sides at the same time. This feature eliminates the need to flip a tortilla ever again, what!! The rotating-oven (what we call it at HQ) applies heat to both sides of each tortilla and really does give it a nice hot and crispy texture. Corn, flour and wheat friendly homie (really the toaster can accommodate any commercial 6-inch tortilla or smaller that you find at the store)!
Do you see commerical applications as well as home use?
Most definitely! The current Nuni Toaster model is engineered to be 20% under the recommended wattage for a standard 120v/15amp north american household outlet. With a larger commercial 220v outlet, we could manufacturer a toaster with 8+ slots for restaurants.
What are the biggest challenges facing your team?
The startup community is heavily focused on tech in Chicago. Don’t get me wrong, I think it is great places such as 1871 are really putting our startup scene on a world platform. That being said, most of the investors we run into are primarily interested in tech app widgets because it’s a “hot” sector. I’m like dude, tortillas are a hot sector!
How can we get one?
When you want something done right, I guess the saying still holds true to this day. We’re happy to share Nuni Toaster will become available on Indigego for pre-orders on June 16th! Wait, there is more! Indiegoego has handpicked the Nuni Toaster to be showcased at CE week in NYC on June 21st-23rd. We are only 1 of 5 companies chosen and are very grateful for the opportunity.