Nathaniel Ru’s Strategy of Sustaining Sweetgreen

Nathaniel Ru graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University in 2007. Soon after his graduation, he and two of his friends who had graduated from the same university co-founded Sweetgreen. Today, Sweetgreen is in 40 locations spread over various states.

 

The Inception of Sweetgreen

 

While studying at Georgetown University, Nathaniel Ru and some of his friends could not find food joints that offered healthy recipes in a fun and easy way. At semester to graduation, their urge to establish an eatery which integrated these aspects was so overwhelming that they began looking for business premises.

 

They started an eatery in a tavern on M street and named it sweetgreen. Today, sweetgreen has become a chain of restaurants with stores in the major cities and the suburbs of the Northeast such as New York, Boston, Washington, and Philadelphia. The restaurant provides healthy food, sourcing ingredients from local farmers and suppliers.

 

According to Theresa Dold, the head of digital marketing, sweetgreen’s marketing is social, smart and local. Nathaniel Ru adds that each of their stores has to uphold the company’s core values, and has to serve the society around.

 

The Core Values

 

Their first value is a win for all. The partners make business decisions which benefit the company, their customers, and the community. Second, they believe in sustainability. Therefore, they make long term resolutions.

 

The third principle is that of keeping it real. Everything has to be authentic, from the ingredients sources to the performance of the employees.

 

The fourth value is adding sweetness. Surpassing customer expectations means retaining clients and attracting new ones. Lastly, sweetgreen has to make an impact, and they work hard every day to achieve this.

 

Connecting With the Community

 

Sweetgreen has a clever way of connecting food to music. During their first two weeks at Dupont Circle, Washington, they could not get any customers. They bought some speakers, put them at the entrance, and played music every weekend. The music won the company new clients. Sweetgreen sponsors sweetlife, a music and food festival which attracts over 20,000 people including food purveyors.

 

Apart from paying with cash or credit cards, sweetgreen has an app which earns points when clients use it to pay. After spending $100, the company contributes a certain percentage to sweetgreen in school. This program teaches disadvantaged students about healthy eating habits.

 

Sweetgreen hires the best and encourages teamwork. They often reward their employees as a way of motivating them. For instance, they organized a wedding party for two employees who were engaged.

 

They also work in close collaboration with gyms and yoga clubs, where they refer potential clients to each other.

 

Nathaniel Ru – article recap

Sweetgreen is offering a healthy alternative for men and women who eat out every day and want food that tastes good, is healthy and reasonably priced. Sweetgreen customers have found that for about the same price they pay for a hamburger and fries they can enjoy a healthy, and nutrition filled meal.

 

Nathaniel Ru, the co-founder of Sweetgreen, believes that how and when the company enters a new market is just as important as the number of locations they open. After the general demographic studies, Nathaniel feels the timing is critical to the companies real estate strategy. As an example, he cites the timing and location of their first restaurant in New York. They opened the first Sweetgreen in a chic neighborhood close to where several tech and media companies had already located, not in the usual strip of fast food chains, making Sweetgreen stand out among its competitors. Not necessarily only looking for convenience and hoping to build a dinner and weekend trade the company opened three more stores in affluent and upbeat neighborhoods in the New York area.

 

Sweetgreen uses only farm fresh produce and will often meet with local farmers, to make sure they can establish a reliable supply chain, before opening a cluster of new locations. Nathaniel Ru states that by relying on the farmers to deliver what they are growing, rather than asking them to produce certain items assures their customers of a wider variety of vegetables, including some they might not try usually. Nathaniel hopes the first thing patron’s notice is the open kitchen; he wants customers to see the ingredients used, and the cooking process. He feels it is better for a client to see the kitchen process rather than trying to explain it to them. The atmosphere is friendly and helpful; an associate will guide you through the ordering process this should take no more than two or three minutes for the walk-in customers. The company has developed an app, that roughly 30% of its customers use, that will cut the wait time dramatically.

 

Nathaniel Ru is a 2007 graduate of the Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. Less than three months after graduation Nathaniel and two college friends founded Sweetgreen. Since opening its first location in Washington, DC in 2007, the new restaurant chain is now operating in forty locations in New York and California and plans on expanding into Boston and Chicago. Their idea of a new concept in fast-casual dining, focusing on sustainability and local produce has created an environment where the company wins; the customer wins, and the community wins.

 

How Nathaniel Ru Built Sweet Green

 

Starting up a company takes a lot of capital and hard work. Few people understand how hard business owners have to work to get things scaled up. Nathaniel Ru had a dream to start a healthy restaurant business. Over time, he has developed that concept into Sweet Green. This is a company that has experienced a lot of growth in recent years. Looking at how Nathaniel Ru developed this company can give valuable insight to new business owners.

 

Debt

 

One of the most important success factors of Sweet Green is that the company has no debt on the balance sheet. Not only does this help Nathaniel Ru concentrate on more important things in the business, but it creates more cash flow to invest back into the company. This is a huge advantage that the company has over its competition. Many companies today are drowning in debt, and this prevents the leadership from making the right decisions about the future. Sweet Green has the working capital needed to make major investments when the time is right.

 

Growth

 

Marketing is one of the most important aspects of running a business. A lot of people struggle in this area, even with all of the free tools that are available today. If you want to grow your business, you have to find a marketing strategy that works. Oftentimes, business owners are so busy that they never strategically think about how to market to customers. Not only is this a major mistake, it will cost the business a lot of long term sales and profits.

 

Future Plans

 

In the future, Nathaniel Ru plans to continue to grow Sweet Green. This company is a niche concept that will only work in certain markets. The desire to eat healthy is growing across the country, but there are still geographic areas where the concept simply would not work. He is hoping to franchise out the concept and earn residual income from people who take on the business. Over the next couple of years, he wants to invest as much time and money into the company as possible to maximize growth.

 

 

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Many people recognize Markus Rothkranz from his YouTube video, “Go Raw Now”, from 2006. Even after a decade, it is still seen as the main source for planning a raw food diet. His first book, “Heal Yourself 101” established him as an authority in optimal health and natural healing. Rothkranz has been invited to conferences in different countries to discuss how people can improve their body, mind, and spirit.

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