Sweetgreen Success: From Dorm Room Startup to Fast-Casual Salad Empire

How Jonathan Neman and his co-founders built a billion-dollar business with a side of technology.

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By Kristen Aldridge

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Sweetgreen co-founder and CEO Jonathan Neman credits the salad chain's massive success to his inexperience in the restaurant business.

"The naivete of not knowing what we were getting into allowed us to ... take the leap and do it," Neman says. He started the farm-to-table chain from his Georgetown dorm room in 2007, alongside his two best friends, Nicholas Jammet and Nathaniel Ru.

With an inspiring plan to reshape the food system, they got to work bringing sustainable sourcing and clean ingredients to busy customers. Today, the trio helm a company valued at over $1.6 billion, which has over 91 locations.

Their days of dorm room strategizing are well behind them, but innovation is still at the core of their mission.

As Sweetgreen expands into new markets, the young founders are looking beyond the traditional restaurant model for their next move.

Their goal is to make healthy eating a frictionless experience, and they're embracing new technology like blockchain to give customers a transparent look at their sourcing while providing a tailored experience.

"Once you have that direct connection to your customer through technology … there's a really powerful opportunity to make a positive impact," says Neman.

Currently, over 50 percent of Sweetgreen's orders are generated through their mobile app, and Neman plans to continue digitizing the customer experience and making their products even more accessible. As Sweetgreen continues to grow and revolutionize the fast-casual dining experience, Neman is staying true to what they do best: serving delicious, healthy bowls, with a side of technology.

In this episode of How Brands Are Born, see how Sweetgreen's humble origins lead to innovation in the restaurant industry.

How Brands Are Born is presented by Cardone Ventures, in partnership with Original Stories Media. Learn how Grant Cardone and Brandon Dawson can help your business transform and scale to 10X levels HERE.

Kristen Aldridge

Founder of Original Stories Media, Journalist, Producer and Storyteller

Emmy-winning journalist and brand storytelling expert Kristen Aldridge is founder and CEO of Original Stories Media, a production company that specializes in capturing the origin stories behind the world’s most impactful brands. With over two decades of experience in the media industry, she has created content garnering millions of views for hugely successful platforms including Entrepreneur, ESPN, ABC, CBS, Yahoo!, and SHAPE.

Passionate about all things entrepreneurship, Aldridge created the original digital series How Brands Are Born to shine a light on all the remarkable people changing the world one big, bold dream at a time. Her mission is to help leaders reveal their most authentic selves so they can more effectively unleash their vision, inspire their culture, and bring deep value to the marketplace.

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