Nathaniel Ru is the co-founder of Sweetgreen. He spoke at the Wharton Marketing Conference a few years ago. He talked about the origins of Sweetgreen and the strategies they had used to grow it into a successful company. Ru and some of his friends found it hard to find a place where they could get healthy food when they were in their senior year. They saw a niche in the food service industry and decided to open a store that provided healthy meals. Ru said that they had spotted a tavern in the middle of the downtown area in Washington D.C. and wanted to open the store there.
They found out that their landlady also owned an apartment that was near their residence. He said that the landlady hung up when he called her the first time. They were persistent and called her each day until she decided to schedule a meeting with them. The landlady told them to get an architect and business investors, and the place would be theirs. They were able to develop the place, and the first Sweetgreen store was opened. Theresa Dold is the head of marketing at Sweetgreen. She said that the founders of the company started with the “why” and then worked up from there. She said this was important because people do not buy what the business does but the way the business is run.
Ru added that the stores they open have to live up to the values of the company and the community that it serves. He also mentioned that Sweetgreen had developed some values that the firm had to fulfill. Sweetgreen had to offer a win-win-win situation for every party that interacted with them. The parties include the customers and the community that they served. He said that decisions were made to produce an outcome where all of these parties would be satisfied.
Dold said that one of the reasons why their customers loved them so much was because they partnered with other healthy lifestyle businesses. Sweetgreen had held yoga classes and had entered into partnerships with gyms to improve the lifestyle choices of their customers. Nathaniel Ru is the co-Chief Executive Officer of Sweetgreen and is based in New York. Ru has been the face of Sweetgreen since it was started and has been interviewed by various media outlets such as Tech Insider and Fast Company. He is an investor and is the principal of SWTLF Ventures. Ru has made investments in several companies including Bond Street, Lola, and EatPops.