Nathaniel Ru – Building a Sweetgreen Culture

When you put three Georgetown University graduates together and ask them to come up with a business idea, what are you likely to get? Most young people would think of tech startups, but the trio of Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Neman, and Nathaniel Ru took an entirely new path. Food. Being the children of entrepreneurs, these three young men wanted to build a business their own sustainable business. There was also a need for healthy food options in the Georgetown area. Nathaniel Ru and his partners opened their first branch barely three months after graduation, in August 2007, and named it Sweetgreen. This restaurant was a success and the beginning of bigger things for the three young men.


Nathaniel Ru, co-founder, and co-CEO of Sweetgreen has been instrumental in the growth and success of this food chain. Sweetgreen brings sustainable, healthy and delicious eating options to the market. The varied and seasonal menu uses organically grown produce, gets meat from animals that are humanely treated and antibiotic free, and only uses natural sweeteners. Sweetgreen, as of February 2016, had 40 outlets countrywide.


Sweetgreen started off with initial funding from 40 friends and relatives, but with time has managed to secure three rounds of venture capital funding from major investors. Nathaniel Ru and his co-founders have been able to secure funding of $22 million and $18.5 million in 2013 and 2014 respectively, from Revolution Growth. The most recent funding of $35 million came from a combination of investors, including Revolution Growth.


Nathaniel Ru attributes the successful fundraising ventures to the fact that he and his co-founders are passionate about their business, and they work hard to achieve their goals. Sweetgreen has always stuck to their original business plan, and this has worked to their advantage. Potential investors always want to see where the business started, how it is doing, and what its future is.


Sweetgreen is more than just a food chain. They sell a set of values that are about doing everything right. Sweetgreen is a lifestyle, a brand, and vision. Nathaniel Ru and his co-founders have made sure that their 1700 employees share these values so that they can pass them on to the customers. Sweetgreen is not all about food, though. They are also involved in philanthropy, music (the annual Sweetlife Festival), technology (the Sweetgreen App) and lifestyle space.


Nathaniel Ru, Nicolas Jammet, and Jonathan Neman have built more than just a food chain. They have created a new culture – the Sweetgreen Culture, based on the positive values of hard work and doing things right.