Sustainable Greens, But Make It Tech

Salad chain Sweetgreen is known for its usage of technology.

Photo:

Richard B. Levine/Zuma Press

Sept. 23, 2019 3:01 pm ET

Today’s startups are tossing around the “tech company” classification as lightly as dressing falls onto a bowl of leaves. Take fast-casual salad chain Sweetgreen for example: The company says its vision is to evolve from a restaurant company to a “food platform.”

That appears to be resonating with investors. Including a $150 million round reported by The Wall Street Journal on Friday, the company has raised over $500 million since its founding in 2007 and says it is now valued at $1.6 billion, up from $1 billion less than a year ago. The chain has grown a legitimate cult following, with some mega-users joining an elite loyalty program for those who spend over $2,500 a year there. Sweetgreen’s investors say the company’s incorporation of technology distinguishes it from competitors. Most purchases are now made through the brand’s smartphone app and the company says it uses digital technologies including machine learning to forecast sales, deploy labor and order food, according to an interview with the Journal. The future of food may very well be enabled by technology, as monster food chains such as Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza have been demonstrating for years. But employing technology doesn’t necessarily a technology company make.

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