Trusting one’s Gut- the key to entrepreneurial success

When Nathaniel Ru and two of his friends were completing their final year at Georgetown, they realized that it was really difficult to get a place where healthy food was sold on campus. They imagined a healthy foods place that would also be fun and easy, and started making plans to acquire a 560 square foot tavern downtown to make their dream a reality. Well, good thing they trusted their gut feeling because six years later, SweetGreens has become a farm to store type of chain of restaurants with more than 21 locations. Nathaniel Ru spoke about their dream and how they realized it, on a recent conference on the New Era of Marketing, Choice, Globalization and analytics.


It was interesting that the landlord who owned the Tavern was the landlord of their apartment building. When they approached her, they knew chances were high that she would think their idea was too risky and avoid getting involved. However, as Ru states, they will forever be grateful to the lady because she told them to show her a business plan and that they could begin the discussion from that point. She even helped them make some of the modifications that made the business location attractive to their clients.


Currently, SweetGreens has stores in all the major cities in the North East. These include New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington. The head of digital marketing at the company states that in order to achieve success the company presented itself not as a mere place to buy food but a complete package altogether.


She states that when they started the company, the goal was to do more than simply sell greens and that through the years; the company has achieved the whole concept. As a matter of fact, they incorporated the idea of Sweetlife into the business plan, improving their sales by a great margin.


The idea of thinking about the why before what is what has led to the massive success of the company. The goal is to be social, smart, and sexy and to have a line of healthy juices that are local. The company throws a music festival every year through its Sweetlife ventures outfit.


About Nathaniel Ru

Nathaniel Ru is a co-founder and CEO at Sweetgreen. He is a graduate of Georgetown University with a degree in finance. He is a native of New York, which is also the base of his company. He is a supporter of healthy and holistic living, and embraces people living in harmony with nature and their community while achieving a carbon neutral footprint on the planet.

Nathaniel Ru Continues to Act as Co-CEO as Sweetgreens Expands

For students at Georgetown University, and other colleges in Washington DC, the chain of restaurants called Sweetgreens is a staple and common eating and gathering space. While the restaurant to the naked eye may seem like a clever place to get a healthy and casual lunch option, it has quickly grown to become one of the fastest growing chains in the country. The restaurant is even more special to those that are in the Washington DC area because three recent graduates of Georgetown founded it.


In 2007 three students at Georgetown were sitting around discussing the fact that they did not have any healthy and off-campus lunch options available to them. Using their creative minds and educational experiences, the three young men quickly started discussions to eventually open up their own restaurant and bring their concept to fruition.


While the three students were finishing up their education, they constantly met to further discuss their ideas. In this time, they were able to come up with a very realistic budget and business plan. Shortly after graduating, the three men started their first Sweetgreens location on M Street in downtown Georgetown. The men were able to raise the capital needed through personal savings, investments by friends and family members, and other capital raising efforts.


For the first couple of years, the three focused solely on the Georgetown location. However, the reputation for quality product and friendly service quickly spread via word of mouth and the three men found the opportunity to expand quickly while maintaining a profit. By the end of 2016, which was just six years after they opened their first location, the Sweetgreens brand has grown to over 40 locations throughout the United States. While the company used to focus on the northeast United States, it has recently opened locations in California and Chicago. In total, the company employs over 1,700 employees.


However, they have quickly found the ability to share duties based on each individual’s skill set. Of the three, Nathaniel Ru has acted as the focal point for the company.