The idea of starting Sweetgreen was birthed by three students in Georgetown University: Nathaniel Ru, Jonathan Neman, and Nicholas Jammet just before they graduated from the business school in 2007.
The three, who loved eating healthy meals as opposed to junk foods, could hardly identify an ideal eating joint in Georgetown. Most of the restaurants in the town could not meet the criteria of clean, healthy, fun, and easy. Consequently, the three friends developed a business idea that would help them fill the gap which existed in the market.
Although loaded with a rich idea, Nathaniel, Jonathan, and Nicholas lacked the necessary resources needed to start the venture; they lacked the location and finances needed for the business.
The three decided to begin by looking for a location, which they found at M Street when they discovered a tavern that was 560 square foot. Nevertheless, the owner was not for the idea as she hung up the phone on Nathaniel the first day he called to explain. She also refused to pick the three friends’ calls for a span of 3 months.
However, their insistence caused her to finally agree to meet them after the three months. They wore officially and presented her their 3-page business plan. She must have seen a future in their idea because she told them to call her once they found an architect, sponsors and came up with a more detailed business plan. Within 3 weeks they called her again and the deal was sealed.
Sweetgreen is run on the core value of longevity, whereby the management does everything for the sake of the long-term effect. The corporate culture recognizes that sustainability must be considered in every decision.
Moreover, Nathaniel Ru believes that the company, customers, and community must win in all the business decisions made. As such, the managers never make selfish decisions that would benefit them while harming the rest of the stakeholders.
Sweetgreen is a success story as people queue for the food in lines as they do for new iPhones. The success has been felt as what started in a small building on M street has now translated into 40 sites in California and New York.
Plans are also underway to start new Sweetgreen shops in Chicago and Boston. Ru also attributes their success to their strategy when entering a new market; Sweetgreen target locations where they can sell dinners not only lunches.