Nowadays, every Georgetown student knows the name, “Sweetgreen“. Whether they’re there for a quick lunch or a fast snack, every student knows it as a must-visit destination in DC.
At the beginning of their senior year, Nathaniel Ru, Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet realized there was a limited amount of options in the area for both healthy and affordable food. They bonded over the idea of creating a business that would solve that problem.
Not one of them had much experience in the industry, or any idea on what it took to build a business. Their lack of experience surprisingly became the key to their success, giving them the ability to approach every problem they had with a fresh look.
Their original location, a small space of only 500 square feet, made these young businessmen think on a creative level to accomplish their goal: Committing to sustainability and quality ingredients. They had limited resources, so they sought advice from different areas of expertise like restaurant owners, the faculty at Georgetown and architects.
Through their business classes at school they learned the extreme importance of having a value-drive business and understood how the culture of the community surrounding it had a great impact. Reflecting those values, the founders made sure to incorporate community service into their business and it is still a value that holds true today.
“Sweetgreen in Schools” is a program created to educate children about healthy living through hands-on activities and workshops. This program has had more than 20,000 children participate and is still continuing to expand to other cities.
Sweetgreen has five company core values that have attribute to their success: “Add the sweet touch”, “Think sustainably”, “Win, win, win”, “Keep it real” and “Make an impact”. Sweetgreen believes in its product and believes a genuine human connection attributes to their ever-growing success.
In regards to opening new locations, co-founder, Nathaniel Ru, claims that how they enter the market is just as important as how many locations they do. According to him, they try to stay away from other fast food chains because they feel it sets them apart in a natural way.
Nathaniel Ru says that Sweetgreen meets farmers before meeting location landlords, since they need to first find a reliable, quality supply chain before opening the store. Instead of demanding particular crops, they ask what the farmers are growing and use the crops available. This cuts down on food waste and exposes customers to new things.