The new healthy fast food chain Sweetgreens is the brainchild of three young entrepreneurs. One of the three co-founders and co-CEO’s, Nathaniel Ru, has described that their goal is to provide customers with organic fresh and healthy ingredients that are grown locally to each of their restaurants. In his words, they wanted to create a brand that stands for something which in their case means providing people with better food than the typical fast food fare.
As all three are graduates of Georgetown University and its entrepreneur program, they also have backgrounds in technology. This shows up in Sweetgreens mobile app through which more than 30% of their customers order their food that they can then quickly pick up at the restaurant. They also differ from other fast food chain restaurants in that they don’t have a defined corporate headquarters. Rather they have co-CEO’s on both coasts of the United States that manage the restaurants in their areas. So far they have restaurants in California, Washington Dc, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
As Nathaniel Ru and his business partners have learned, it can be hard to delegate some responsibilities as a company grows in size. He and his partners used to fill every position at the company but now they have built teams to manage some of the aspects of the business so that they can focus on overall strategy and governance of the company.
The first Sweetgreens restaurant opened near Georgetown University. Nathanial Ru and his partners had a long and hard negotiation for the space the restaurant now occupies. The landlord of the space didn’t want anything to do with them as they weren’t established and were still in college. However, they were able to convince her that leasing to them was a great idea and she agreed to have them sign a lease. That initial location continues to be very successful.
One of the core values of the company that Nathaniel Ru is passionate about is sustainability. He says that each location needs to be carefully selected as it needs to be fairly close to the farms that the restaurant will serve. Additionally, the business model needs to be sustainable which he says is because it’s solving a problem their customers have, namely being able to get quick food that is very healthy for them rather than unhealthy food provided at other fast food places.
Follow Nathaniel Ru on twitter.