At Revolution our passion has always been in partnering with entrepreneurs that possess the unique blend of vision and execution to build companies that can change the world. We’ve been careful to emphasize that the high-growth companies that will fuel job creation and drive creative change will not just be – and cannot just be – technology or Internet companies.
New companies will emerge in sectors that represent significant parts of our economy – in energy, healthcare, education, manufacturing and hospitality among others – many of them leveraging technology and innovative new approaches to differentiate themselves and disrupt an existing industry.
One such company is based in our own backyard – sweetgreen, a fast-growing organic, farm-to-table salad shop. Since the company opened its first store in Washington, DC’s Georgetown neighborhood in 2007, it has rapidly grown to 20+ locations in DC, Maryland, Virginia, Philadelphia, Boston and New York City. Co-founders Nic Jammet, Jonathan Neman, and Nate Ru created sweetgreen with an eye not just to opening a few local restaurants that capitalized on a market need they identified for fast, healthy food, but rather as a startup with high-growth potential.
We believe in the potential for companies like sweetgreen to fuel our economy and drive innovation, and that’s why we’re excited today to announce a significant investment in the company by Revolution Growth. As the demand for fast, healthy dining options continues to grow, we believe that sweetgreen has the potential for significant scale, not just as a regional player, but as a national brand.
Our belief is bolstered by the success of other innovators that have fundamentally transformed food in America. From Starbucks – a niche Seattle coffee shop that is now worth over $60 billion – to Chipotle, a Denver-based burrito shop committed to high-quality ingredients and a market cap now exceeding $16 billion, the evidence strongly suggests a shift in America’s taste for fast-casual dining. While tech companies naturally grab most of the headlines, there have been a range of entrepreneurial success stories in the food sector (including two of the best performing IPOs this year – Potbelly and Noodles & Company).
Beyond their great concept and successful business model, what impressed me about sweetgreen was the team, culture, and the value placed on building and maintaining a community. Through programs like “sweetgreen in schools,” an education program where students learn about healthy eating and sustainability; and “sweetgreen passport,” a partnership with local fitness studios and instructors, sweetgreen has and will continue to place community at the heart of its growth strategy. It also works closely with local farmers to help them create sustainable businesses.
Embedded in their community-centric philosophy is sweetgreen’s commitment to promoting healthy, active lifestyles. It’s no secret that America’s obesity epidemic poses a severe public health crises. For years, fast-food chains have paid lip service to supporting healthier menu options, only to pull back because of a belief that nutrition doesn’t sell. Sweetgreen stands in stark contrast to that claim, and they have made it their mission to bring “the sweetlife” to as many consumers as possible. I am reminded of what my mother used to tell me – “you are what you eat.” It turns out that is largely true and as Americans, especially younger Americans, become increasingly health conscience, sweetgreen is poised to fill the void left by a lack of healthy and readily available food options.
Building and strengthening community is also at the heart of sweetgreen’s embrace of technology. They developed and recently launched a proprietary payment and rewards app now used by more than 20 percent of customers, an industry-leading standard, with one percent of the profit going to healthy eating in schools. The app is in-keeping with the company’s “win-win-win” philosophy – “to create solutions where the company wins, the customer wins, and the community wins.”
We’re excited to welcome sweetgreen into the Revolution portfolio, and we look forward to playing a role in its continued growth.