New Strategic Investors Include Restaurateurs Danny Meyer and Daniel Boulud, Stonyfield Farm’s Gary Hirshberg and Behance’s Scott Belsky, joining Revolution Growth
Funding to Accelerate Momentum Behind Retail Expansion, Seasonal Supply Chain, sweetgreen in Schools Program, and Technology Innovation
Washington, D.C. – sweetgreen, the seasonal kitchen and lifestyle brand with 27 locations along the East Coast, today announced an $18.5 million investment led by Revolution Growth and additional strategic investors including Stonyfield Farm Founder/Chairman Gary Hirshberg, Behance’s Founder and CEO Scott Belsky, and restaurateurs Danny Meyer and Daniel Boulud. Revolution Growth previously invested in sweetgreen in 2013, and the new funding will help fuel sweetgreen’s momentum, with a focus on the company’s upcoming West Coast expansion, seasonal supply chain, sweetgreen in Schoolsprogram, and new consumer technologies.
“Sweetgreen is quickly emerging as the place of choice for people looking for fresh, seasonal, and locally sourced food – and in the process is building a lifestyle brand with meaning and purpose,” said Revolution Growth partner Steve Case. “We look forward to continuing this journey as sweetgreen continues to expand on the East Coast, and prepares to open in California next year.”
Following a year of significant growth during which the company opened five new stores in three markets including New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia – with two more NY locations in NoLita and Williamsburg to open by year’s end – sweetgreen is now poised for further expansion as it gears up to launch on the West Coast. The company recently announced the forthcoming openings of two Los Angeles locations, West Hollywood and Santa Monica, in early 2015.
“We are honored and grateful for Revolution Growth’s continued support, which will enable us to bring sweetgreen, our seasonal menu, and our lifestyle – the “sweetlife” – to new cities across the country,” said Jonathan Neman, co-founder and co-CEO of sweetgreen. “As sweetgreen grows from a regional to national brand, we will continue to differentiate ourselves with unmatched commitment to innovation and social responsibility.”
One of the ways sweetgreen has been able to differentiate itself is through its new seasonal menu and relationships with more than 100 local farms. With this latest round of funding, sweetgreen will continue to evolve and optimize its supply chain, and bring its customers closer to where real food comes from.
“The words ‘seasonality’ and ‘fast food’ are rarely used together, but at sweetgreen, we believe that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive – it just takes a commitment to standing behind our food ethos and working with farmers that share the same values. It takes an investment in both people and in supply chain systems. And it takes customers who appreciate the transparency of food regardless of the occasion,” said co-founder Nicolas Jammet.
Another program and key differentiator the company is looking to scale with the new funding is sweetgreen in Schools. Launched in 2010 and originally run by an intern at a single sweetgreen location, sweetgreen in Schools had a simple goal of teaching kids about the importance of healthy eating while making it fun.This year, sweetgreen in Schools has grown to reach 3,000 students across 14 different sweetgreen locations. More than an experimental passion project, the program is fully integrated as a top company priority. This round of funding will help the company to expand sweetgreen in Schools to many new communities.
Also a top company priority is sweetgreen’s commitment to elevating the guest experience through innovative technologies. Its mobile payment and rewards app, launched in 2013, accounts for up to 25% of transactions company-wide. This month, the company is piloting a new, mobile-optimized online ordering systemto be rolled out by year’s end at all locations.
“Staying ahead of the technology curve is a perpetual and maniacal focus at sweetgreen,” said co-founder Nathaniel Ru. “It has never been about adopting technology for the sake of what’s “cool” or “on trend”. Our goal is to innovate in a way that better connects the digital and physical worlds, provides a frictionless customer experience and, ultimately, makes seasonal eating even more convenient and accessible. And this is only the beginning.”
Founded in 2007 by Georgetown University graduates Nicolas Jammet, Jonathan Neman, and Nathaniel Ru, sweetgreen has become a favorite not only for its delicious and healthy food, but also for its commitment to local farmers, the community, sustainability, and outstanding company culture. The founders passionately believed it was possible to create “food that fits” – your values, your budget, your tastes, your imagination, and your community. They believe that food can be both healthy and delicious, high-quality and affordable; that experiences can be both meaningful and fun, hip, and wholesome; and that business practices can combine style and substance while being mutually beneficial to the company and community they serve. The founders opened the first location in Georgetown in August 2007 – just three months out of college. The shop quickly grew a cult-like following and, over the next seven years, the threesome went on to open 26 additional locations throughout Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, New York City, Boston, and Philadelphia, with Los Angles to launch this winter. As music has always been an important part of the sweetgreen experience, the company also founded the annual sweetlife music and food festival, a carbon-neutral event that attracts 25,000 attendees with its curated line-up of cutting edge artists and food from top local chefs and farmers. Committed to its community, sweetgreen recently announced its partnership with FoodCorps, a national organization that connects children in underserved communities to real food.
About Revolution Growth
Founded and led by Steve Case, Ted Leonsis, and Donn Davis, Revolution Growth invests in companies that can change the world. Its mission is to build disruptive, innovative businesses that offer consumers more choice, convenience, and control in their lives. By taking a long-term approach and developing a true, hands-on partnership with entrepreneurs and management teams, Revolution Growth brings a unique strategy and passion to investing in and building significant companies. For more information, visit www.revolution.com/growth.