Most of the time, co-founders exaggerate their company’s success, but that’s not the case with Nathaniel Ru’s Sweetgreen. Sweetgreen is a masterful creation that combines healthy and fresh with organic and local, and that’s not just about the food. Although fresh ingredients are a big deal at all 40 Sweetgreen locations, they also focus on the customers just as much.
When the trio of co-founders started Sweetgreen, they wanted to create something totally different. They achieved this by looking at what other restaurants did and starting from scratch. Their idea quickly grew into a national high-end salad chain, backed by several big-name investors.
The advantage to opening a restaurant these days is having better technology. When Sweetgreen first opened, they were one of the first restaurants to embrace online transactions. To date, almost one-third of their transactions occur online or through a mobile app. It was important to Ru that the company embrace technology.
The trio also approached management differently. Neither of them were fans of big corporate headquarters. Corporate headquarters removed the personal connection with customers.
Sweetgreen is all about making the customers happy with more than just salads. To achieve their dream, the co-CEOs created their own form of management.
At least five times a year, they shut down most of their offices, and all of their employees take turns working in the restaurants. It’s a brilliant way to say closer to customers and allows the co-CEOs to grow the company the way they want.
From the start, Sweetgreen found success. The fact that Nathaniel Ru, Jonathan Neman, and Nicolas Jammet met set them up for success. All three men’s parents were also successful entrepreneurs, and the trio met in an entrepreneurship class at Georgetown University. Sweetgreen’s success was just a matter of time.
At least, that’s what it looks like. Back then, the boys had no idea what would happen. After graduation, they noticed a lack of healthy food options in the Georgetown area. It only made sense to start a health-based restaurant near campus. Despite a rough winter break, their first restaurant survived the first year.
That first year showed them that they could overcome anything. Eventually, that made them think they could continue running the company by themselves. They learned they should’ve built a team sooner rather than later.