THE BRAINS BEHIND THE BOWLS
Since their undergraduate days, Sweetgreen’s co-founders have shared the chief executive role—and one giant desk. Ten years later, they’ve divided and conquered nine markets.
Creative branding and design
STARTUP GENES Ru’s dad emigrated from Taiwan and started an L.A. business importing goods from Asia.
LEADERSHIP LESSON Always hire ahead of the curve. The co-founders waited until they had opened three stores before hiring any corporate staff. “You bootstrap a lot of things yourself in the beginning, but it was just the three of us,” Ru says. “We needed some help.”
Food and beverage operations
STARTUP GENES With parents on New York City’s restaurant scene, Jammet interned for chef Joe Bastianich and restaurateur Danny Meyer.
LEADERSHIP LESSON Sweetgreen’s second store was a ghost town—until the co-founders started blasting music and sampling food outside. “Never waste a crisis,” Jammet says. “Shit is going to happen. Flip it and make a positive out of it.”
Tech, real estate, and finance
STARTUP GENES His parents emigrated from Iran and started an L.A. textile manufacturer. In high school, Neman sold day planners and ran a tutoring business.
LEADERSHIP LESSON When Sweetgreen accepted its first VC funding, it switched from geographic expansion to developing an openkitchen layout and online ordering. “Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up,” Neman says.