Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 7

Toronto-based entrepreneur Frank
Sinopoli is launching Grocery
Neighbour to address holes in the
traditional retail model.

granted a four-week partnership with
General Mills, Inc. through its Pro Bono
for Small Business Program, which was
established to support local, minority-led small businesses in the consumer
packaged goods industry. Through the
program, General Mills offers resources
in food safety and quality assurance,
marketing, packaging, capital and asset
management and more. Ms. Sajady hoped
to tap the company's expertise to increase
brand awareness in the absence of in-store
demos and other sampling events.
" We worked with our heads down
all of 2020, " she said. " We had to do a
rebrand. We had to resource all of our
bottles and lids. "
Ms. Sajady also called numerous
banks in a quest for cash to build out the
business. In October, Maazah received a
loan from area group WomenVenture " to
get things off the ground, " she said.
" In the future, we would love to see
what it would look like to find a VC or


was available. Bright and bold, the original
flavor combines cilantro, ginger, lemon,
apple cider vinegar and jalape├▒o. The
sisters have since added two additional varieties, a chutney aioli and a spicy chutney.
" When COVID happened, nobody
knew what they were going to do, " Ms.
Sajady said. " As an entrepreneur you are
disciplined to find solutions not just for
today but long term, thinking about what
will make you successful down the line,
given all of the crazy circumstances and
how fast everything can change. "
The onset of the pandemic prompted
Ms. Sajady to reconsider how her brand,
Maazah, was manufactured, distributed
and sold. Social distancing guidelines
issued by the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention snarled the startup's production capabilities.
" It was just me producing sometimes
in the kitchen by myself during COVID
just to be safe and not harm anyone
else, and you cannot produce that much
chutney by yourself, " Ms. Sajady said. " It
was very clear we needed to make some
changes... And I think that's what made
us take the leap to scale the company in
March and April. "
In the months that followed, Maazah
initiated production at a co-packing facility
and began mapping a go-to-market strategy
in retail stores. Ms. Sajady expects the business to benefit from consumers cooking
and eating at home more for the foreseeable future. Longer term, she hopes to
expand the brand beyond chutneys into
other condiments and prepared meals
honoring her heritage while introducing more Americans to Afghan cuisine.
In November, the company was


What began as a side gig selling chutneys at
farmers markets blossomed into a full-time
business for Yasameen Sajady (right).

January 5, 2021

some type of program that took a stake
but also supported our mission and vision
and what we want to do as a company, just
knowing how tough it was to go through
a bank, " Ms. Sajady said. " We know at
this stage we're really not looking to do it
alone. We want to find the right partners
that value diversity, value good food.
We know we're going to need the extra
muscle for sure. "

A year of firsts
Last February, Najwa Khan quit her
job at an oral care company to focus on
launching a food startup. Weeks later,
she was thrust into the chaos catalyzed by
As much of the world descended into
lockdown, Ms. Khan began researching
and developing recipes for her dessert
business in preparation for a soft launch
in the summer. She hired a small team of
bakers, newly unemployed as a result of
many foodservice outlets shuttering, to
help produce the treats in small batches at
a commercial kitchen.
" Because we weren't tied to an
original business plan, we were able to
modify what we did and build it through
the pandemic, " Ms. Khan said. " We
weren't stuck in a kitchen where we
weren't prepared to be safe, to be socially
distant. We had to plan our business out
that way. We didn't know any different,
and I think that helped, not knowing
another way of doing it. "
Several months later, she unveiled
the brand Dalci online at The
initial products are packaged brownies
and blondies formulated with anti-inflammatory ingredients such as avocado
oil, coconut sugar and almond flour. Ms.
Khan was inspired to start the company
after adopting a diet that helped her resolve multiple health conditions without
Food Business News


Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021

Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 1
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 2
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 3
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 4
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 5
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 6
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 7
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 8
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 9
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 10
Food Entrepreneur - January 5, 2021 - 11