Nathaniel Ru and the Success at Sweetgreen

Nathaniel Ru was only a student when he stumbled upon what would soon turn out to be a hugely profitable idea. Ru and a few fellow classmates, including Theresa Dold, would brainstorm the concept for a farm-to-table restaurant that catered to food-conscious people. They ruminated on concepts together while taking classes at Georgetown University before falling on what we now know as Sweetgreen. Sweetgreen is an all natural, community-minded restaurant that serves up fresh, healthy, and delicious salads to people at 21 different locations throughout the Northeast region of the United States. The growth of Sweetgreen is something that all young entrepreneurs should pay attention to because it is sparking a new way of life in the busy world of business.


The truth is that there is almost no way that Sweetgreen should have been able to find success so early on. Nathaniel Ru and his two co-founders were fresh out of college armed with nothing but ambition and a business plan. When Ru and co. found an old tavern space for rent they knew that they had a location. Sweetgreen was going to come to life on M Street — they just had to convince the landlord to lease to them while also looking for backers to fund the development. This was not an easy task. In fact, Sweetgreen almost didn’t get off of the ground.


Ru and his co-founders had to call the landlord of the building multiple times until they were able to convince the individual to meet them. From there a rock solid business plan won the Sweetgreen crew a location. Within a month they had a team of backers, an architect on hand, and a launching point ready. Sweetgreen was coming to life, but the team wasn’t content with just being a restaurant in town. Sweetgreen wanted to become a part of the culture of the area, they wanted to be iconic, and they had a plan to make that happen too.


Theresa Dold, leader of the digital marketing for Sweetgreen, knew that they had to do something special to make their restaurant a part of the local zeitgeist. So, Dold focused on ‘tribal marketing’. This gave birth to the Sweetgreen mobile app which allowed customers to register points with their purchases. Points would go toward donations to teach healthy eating around the city. Sweetgreen would also go on to launch their own musical festival, ‘Sweetlife’, to further push this cultural aspect.

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