Nathaniel Ru: Sweetgreen’s Ingenuity

Sweetgreen is the nation’s top salad chain restaurant. Many didn’t think a salad chain could work, but co-founders Nathaniel Ru, Jonathon Neman, and Nicolas Jammet proved them wrong. People, in particular, millennials, are more health conscious these days. Opening a health-based restaurant that only sells salads was a great idea.

It’s not just the salads that resonate with customers. As Ru put it, Sweetgreen is about feeding more people better food. The restaurant’s atmosphere is about integrating healthy with delicious, self-sustainable ingredients. Sweetgreen’s menu isn’t just healthy for its customers; it’s also healthy for local economies and the environment.

Another way to describe Sweetgreen is to call it a modern company. The biggest advantage to running a business these days is having an endless array of technology to make things easier. For the co-CEOs, Sweetgreen had to be a tech-savvy business; it became part of their DNA. A good percentage of the restaurants’ transactions occur online.

Their ingenuity didn’t stop at embracing technology. The other half of successfully running a company is management. Many great companies failed because of a lack of sufficient management. Sweetgreen’s management strategy goes beyond corporate headquarters. In fact, Sweetgreen doesn’t have a main headquarters.

The entire company operates in an effort to decentralize their headcount. Even the co-CEOs operate bicoastal. Since opening some offices in Los Angeles, they now fly back and forth, steadily growing the company at their pace. They even make office employees work in the restaurants to ensure that customers are appreciated on a corporate level. Read more: Sweetgreen Founder Interview – Nathaniel Ru | Business Insider

Opening a restaurant in Georgetown wasn’t their first idea, but it was the best idea. In their entrepreneurship class at Georgetown University, where they first met, they learned to spot marketing opportunities. At the time, the Georgetown area lacked any real healthy eating options.

They opened their restaurant in 2007. It was an immediate hit with the local students. Things were going great until their winter break. Most of the students were away on vacation and business got slow. Yet, their restaurant endured, ensuring the future co-CEOs that they were on the right path.

Through all the ups and downs, they learned to handle it all. In a way, that caused a problem down the line. As the company expanded, they found it hard to let others take the reins.

Learn more about Michael Lacey: https://twitter.com/nathanielru and http://www.thehoya.com/nathaniel-ru-jonathan-neman-and-nicolas-jammet/

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