April 19, 2023
We’re excited to announce the $10,000 March Amber Grant recipient. Congratulations to Neha Charnalia, Owner of SwitchGrocery. They are the fourth qualifier for the 2023 year-end Amber Grant ($25,000).
Recently, WomensNet Advisory Board member Marcia Layton Turner sat down with Neha for an exclusive interview. You can listen to their conversation and view the transcript below.
WomensNet: Hello everyone. My name is Jama and I am here with Neha Charnalia, our 2023 March Amber Grant winner. We are so excited to meet with her and talk with her today about the awesome things that she’s doing with her business.
So we’ll go ahead and get started. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about your business.
Neha: Of course. First of all, thank you for the opportunity. SwitchGrocery. We’re an online grocery store and we find hard to find food products and we bring them to Canadians. We ship across Canada. That’s the short answer. The longer answer is that it takes a food brand about eight to 10 years to get on shelf in Canada and the US. And we cut that time short and we are a stepping stone for American and Canadian brands to get their products to Canadians without spending tens and thousands of dollars of listing fees.
And the other side for us is that we’re seeing a growth in people who have dietary restrictions. So diabetes, vegan,, low carb, vegetarian. I think about 11 million people in Canada have diabetes or pre-diabetes. 2.3 million people are vegetarian, vegan now, and they need food options. And we’re a different kind of grocery store where we eat everything we sell and we’re just so happy to be able to provide options to Canadians.
WomensNet: I love your name of your business. It’s so appropriate. SwitchGrocery.
Neha: Switch the way you shop, switch the way you eat.
WomensNet: And so when you think about SwitchGrocery and you tell others about it, what do you want all of us to walk away knowing about your business?
Neha: It depends on if you’re a customer or if you’re a funder. Similar to WomensNet. To our customers, we always say that we see you as a person. You know, I think every person – you and I included – we’re on a health journey. We want to be seen for who we are. We want to be acknowledged. And through social media, Facebook, Instagram, a weekly show, we’re on TikTok, LinkedIn, Twitter, you can find us anywhere… That is the mission of our team. We really treat our customers as people because we see ourselves in them. So that’s what I would like to leave anybody who’s thinking of shopping with us with. Just come follow us, have fun, come along for the ride, and to funders and people who are in the industry:
I think that what I would say is that if we want to go far, we really need to go together. We can’t go far alone. And we’ve seen that in the pandemic. We’ve seen that, the recession looming, the the crazy price increases in food products. And that’s why I appreciate an organization like WomensNet because really I don’t feel alone today. And I think that’s the message that I would want funders or people in the food industry to know, which is we are not alone. We can always reach out to each other. We can always talk to each other and brainstorm and come up with solutions.
WomensNet: How will the $10,000 grant, um, how’s it gonna support your business moving forward? Would you have coming up?
Neha: So first thing – I just wanna say that WomensNet has supported SwitchGrocery, but also so many other companies by just giving me confidence. So more than the grant, having the confidence as a woman to apply for a grant and not have to go through 40,000 pages of questions, record a pitch video, and submit financial statements, which we have, and we can of course, and do all of these things in addition to running our business…just applying for this grant gave me so much confidence.
And this is not scripted – but I’m saying this because it’s so important, that this kind of work is so important to give us the confidence, and the resources that we need to succeed.
So the $10,000 grant and getting that phone call just gave me a boost of confidence right off the bat.
And the second thing is that we know that the effectiveness of digital ads has declined. We want to be able to reach new people, and we really believe strongly that the next wave for us to reach new people is partnership. So this is where the money’s going to go.
We have already started to build our first partnership. It’s with True Local, a meat delivery company. They source meat locally. They sell in Canada and parts of the US. So we’re partnering with them and introducing Switch to their customers, and they would introduce, themselves to our customers. We’re gonna build more of a stronger community together.
And the third thing is we have a weekly show. It’s just becoming stronger and better every week. And we have so many people tuning in to watch it, and this gives me the resources to make it better. My dog’s still gonna bark during the show, but I’ll at least have somebody else maybe helping me write [and] send the text.
WomensNet: Very cool. Love it. And I love that you said partnerships. That’s one way to grow. And, I just really appreciated one thing that you’ve noticed in your own assessment is for your particular company that the digital ads was something that wasn’t working.
So, how can women in the WomensNet network support your business? What can we do?
Neha: You already have. I think, so genuinely, I think it’s what I said about not feeling alone. Add me on LinkedIn. Keep in touch with our story. We want to become a household name in Canada. We wanna be a recognized name as an option for a grocery store.
And that’s a large goal. And I think that, yes, you can buy from us. If we’re not for you, we would so appreciate that you just come along with us on this ride, and support us.
WomensNet: Just looking at your social media pages and your website, there’s so many fun recipes and so much great information. I absolutely love how you can search food by different dietary restrictions. It’s so user-friendly and your products do look amazing and delicious, especially the ones right in front of you [shown during the interview].
Neha: Thank you so much. And they’re all open, so you know I eat them. They’re all open.
WomensNet: Yes. And that was one thing that was really touching from your mission statement. Where you said: ‘I love this food. I eat this food; this food is in my home.’ And so the products that you’re selling are products that are things that you would consume too. So that’s a really nice connection that you have with all of your products you carry.
WomensNet: And so how can we find you online on your social media pages?
Neha: So our weekly show is broadcast live on YouTube, specifically first, and then also our Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. But YouTube is our fastest growing channel right now. And Instagram and Facebook are our diehards… love them, our customer friends, we call ’em our customer friends.
And so our handle is at Switch Grocery everywhere. We’re very, very easy to find. So I would say wherever you live, if you live on TikTok, we’re there. If you live on Twitter, we’re there. Pick one platform or two, and follow us there.
WomensNet: Wonderful. Congratulations again. We are so thrilled to see what’s going to happen next month.
Neha: I’m so excited!