Nathaniel Ru Creates a Sweet Life through Community, Music, and Food
Knowledge @ Wharton’s article “Sweetgreen’s Nathaniel Ru: ‘Everything You Do Should Last Longer than You’” discusses Nathaniel Ru’s restaurant, Sweetgreen.
Mr. Ru began thinking of the idea while he was still a senior in college at Georgetown University. After speaking to a landlord with a three-page business plan and a single page of financials, the landlord encouraged them to find financial backers, an architect and a more in-depth business plan.
After three and a half weeks Ru and his friends came back with exactly that. Despite having no previous restaurant experience and still studying at college, the landlord took a chance on the young entrepreneurs. Ru is aware of how lucky he was that he was able to find people to support him. Read more: Nathaniel Ru | Crunchbase and Nathaniel Ru Blazes a Trail in The Height Food Industry | Affiliate Dork
Now the chain sweetgreen has 21 locations. They are all farm-to table restaurants that are more than mere salad bars. It always had a deeper purpose to challenge the norm by creating a line of juices, throwing a music festival and embracing a combination of sexy, local, smart, and social.
Ru believed that regardless of how many stores Sweetgreen has, each needed to maintain the core values of the company by serving the community. Ru wanted to create a triple win, where the community, the customer, and the company are all involved.
After having no customers for two weeks in a larger space in Washington, the company invested in a musical connection. They wanted to establish the emotional connection between food and music, hoping the experience would bring in customers. It gradually expanded from playing music outside the store to a food and music experience in the parking lot. Finally, it grew to a huge music and food festival, bringing nearly 20,000 people into the fold.
A key factor behind it according to Ru and Dold is that they want to create a community for their customers to feel connected to. They have also used other tribal marketing styles like incorporating other lifestyle health businesses. They have done several co-promotions with gyms and fitness clubs.
Sweetgreen was founded in 2007 by Jonathan Neman, Nathaniel Ru, and Nicolas Jammet after they graduated with from Georgetown University’s business school. They create their menus based on the season and the region, creating a rotation of seasonal dishes for each market.
Sweetgreen received funding from investors like Seth Goldman, Joe Bastianich and the founder’s parents with an initial funding of $375,000. They created a sweetlife festival that has become a festival to bring food, music, and community together.
Learn more about Nathaniel Ru: