Taran Johal, ’21 BSB, CEO and founder of Tavolo

Alum brings AI to restaurants

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

By Charly Haley and Pat Vasquez-Cunningham


Taran Johal, ’21 BSB, comes from a family of entrepreneurs.

His father, who immigrated from Punjab, India, worked as a cab driver in New York for about 20 years “but he always kind of had a hustler spirit,” Johal said. Then, when Johal was 8 years old, the family moved to Fargo, N.D., where they ran hotels.

Johal helped out by mopping floors and making beds. “That’s where I got kind of my earliest experience in entrepreneurship and the kind of work ethic that it takes to build a really successful business,” he said.

Today, after graduating from the Carlson School of Management with a double-major in Entrepreneurial Management and Marketing, Johal is CEO and founder of Tavolo, an automated restaurant marketing platform driven by artificial intelligence (AI).

Taran Johal, ’21 BSB, founder of Tavolo

Tavolo is an automated restaurant marketing platform driven by artificial intelligence.

The start-up, founded in 2019 while Johal was still a student, has grown quickly and recently received funding from “Shark Tank” star Kevin O'Leary.

Johal is excited about the success and is eager to keep growing. Tavolo fills a need for small business owners who’d otherwise have to hire a marketing professional or learn everything themselves, he said.

“Basically, what we do is track macro trends across the restaurant and hospitality industry, and we aggregate data from an individual restaurant. Then, we use AI to autogenerate marketing campaigns based on the insights that we understand about the business, its customers, what’s performing well, and what’s not performing well,” he said.

By elevating their marketing in this way, small businesses can better compete with larger companies, Johal said. “Really, I built Tavolo as kind of a marketing assistant for local business owners. I wanted to build something that could help them scale their revenue and build large businesses.”