Nowadays, every student at Georgetown knows about Sweetgreen. Whether, they’re going there for a snack, a quick lunch or as a “must-see-of-DC” adventure, it’s the place everyone goes and its all thanks to a few of their own alumni.
Six years ago, 3 college students at the beginning of their senior year began discussing their very limited options for both healthy and affordable food in Georgetown. Nathaniel Ru, Jonathan Neman and Nicolas Jammet bonded over their love of food and wanting to solve a problem they all had.
Very soon after that discussion, they laid out their vision and created their business plan. The 3 students barely had any experience and they had no idea what it would take to build a business. They knew even less about the food industry.
For most, their lack of experience would be their demise. For these students however, it turned out to be the key to their success. They claim that it provided the perfect opportunity to approach their problems with a fresh set of eyes.
They opened their first location, on M Street, and it was only 500 square feet. They had limited resources, so they were forced to work together and think creatively. They focused mostly on what they decided they couldn’t do without: their commitment to sustainability and quality ingredients. They asked for advice from restaurant owners, architects and even from faculty at Georgetown.
In school, they learned the importance of have a business driven by value. They also began to understand how the culture of a community influences a brand. Georgetown emphasizes service and it always impressed the 3 men how much the business program has grown
Deciding that Sweetgreen needed to reflect their values was an easy decision. They began to incorporate community service into their business. They started “Sweetgreen in Schools” in 2010. It’s a program that educates kids about nutrition and health through hands-on activities and workshops. It has evolved to include the participation of over 20,000 children.
Sweetgreen continues to grow, adding more and more locations in more cities. The 3 men and co-founders base each location of the company’s 5 core values: “Keep it real”, Add the sweet touch”, “Think sustainably”, “Win, win, win” and “Make an impact”.
Nathaniel Ru received his Bachelor of Science from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business in 2007. He is the co-founder and co-CEO of Sweetgreen. He believes that food can be healthy and delicious and that it can also be both high-quality and affordable.
Nathaniel Ru has received many accolades from the press. They have been received from USA Today, Washington Post, Forbes, Bloomberg, CBS, CNBC and Food and Wine. He and the other founders have been voted onto the lists, “40 Big Thinkers Under 40” by Food and Wine, and “30 Under 30” by Forbes.