Nathaniel Ru: The Mind Behind Sweetgreen

Being a college student often leaves you with the dilemma of whether you want to eat healthy or whether you want to save money. Very infrequently do you find both of these things in one convenient location. The was exactly the issue that then Georgetown University senior Nathaniel Ru and his friends were having while they were students. Never before had a restaurant existed in their area that combined a fun atmosphere that was attractive to college students with both healthy dining options and a reasonable price tag. This is when Nathaniel and his friends thought up the idea of Sweetgreen which aimed to provide fresh and often local produce in a new and fun way to college kids and the surrounding Washington D.C. population. With little more than their three and a half years of education and constant prodding, the students finally arranged a meeting with their landlord who also happened to own a space down the street from their apartment. After the meeting the Nathaniel was tasked with returning with financial backers and an actual business plan. He did this in under one month and returned to Georgetown to get to work. This was the first location of Sweetgreen and it was a hit. The company quickly expanded into locations in Boston, Philadelphia and New York. Ru often compares his company to Apple in that they believe they looked from the outside in to develop a product the best way possible that the population both craved and demanded. Nathaniel Ru is seeking to do what many large enterprises have already successfully done which is to create a brand that means something to the customers. Ru and his associates wants this restaurant to mean more than just a quick place to stop for a salad over your lunch hour. Nathaniel has found a great way to make his customers feel like a part of a community and that is through music. After starting out with nothing more than some speakers playing music outside one of their D.C. locations, Ru has built a music festival, dubbed “sweetlife“, which now attracts thousands of people every year to enjoy music, food and a sense of camaraderie. What started as a simple idea to serve fun, healthy and inexpensive food for Nathaniel Ru and his friends has grown into something much larger than they could have ever imagined.

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