Sweetgreen just joined Airbnb, Lyft, and Uber — It’s officially a unicorn.
Unicorns are private companies that are valued at more than $1 billion. The fast-casual salad chain recently hit the mark after raising an additional $200 million in financing led by Fidelity Investments.
Its CEO Jonathan Neman said he has some big plans. “This funding will help us with the second act. For us, that means meeting people where they are and going beyond the restaurants, so we will use the funding to expand into new markets and more restaurants,” Neman said Thursday on Yahoo Finance’s “Midday Movers.”
Neman said that Sweetgreen’s next move will be to expand technologically. “We see ourselves as moving from a restaurant to a food platform, and that means building a lot of technology that makes it easier to eat healthy food. So today, we have over 1 million people on our digital platform, and our online orders continue to be our biggest driver in our business. We’d like to really lean into that and focus on building a personalized food system.”
Since its founding in 2007 by Neman and two other classmates from college, Sweetgreen has grown to more than 90 locations around the country. Neman wants the company to personalize and customize its food. “The sweetgreen of the future will not just be a Sweetgreen, but it will be a very personal sweetgreen that gets to know your taste and nutrition preferences and starts to curate a menu based off of you,” Neman explained.
Neman said Sweetgreen takes quality control seriously and illustrated a very tech-forward approach to make sure quality and food safety remains top notch.
“[Blockchain] gives us the data on exactly when the food was grown … we’re also using an internet of sensors in the ground — understanding the soil health and what the climate was like when things were grown. We then test the produce when we receive it for taste. We are able to optimize and figure out what were the variables in where the food was grown and how did that affect the taste of the food,” Neman said.
Despite joining the group of unicorns, those hoping for a Sweetgreen IPO may be out of luck.
“No plans for an IPO today,” Neman asserted.
Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.
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