Slutty Vegan — the Atlanta-based vegan burger chain — made waves last year when the brand announced a $25 million round of series A funding, led by prolific restaurateur Danny Meyer’s investment group, Enlightened Hospitality.
Today, at 10 locations, Slutty Vegan is still in the startup phase, but the concept has gained national attention for its unique branding, high-profile investors, and standing out in the increasingly crowded plant-based burger segment. At CREATE: The Experience, Jason Crain, president of Slutty Vegan, will speak during one of the Ask the Experts sessions about how other restaurant startups can secure business partners and financing to turbocharge their brand growth.
“Going from a shared kitchen to a food truck to our first brick and mortar — and now we’ll soon have 12 locations across four states — wasn’t easy,” Crain said. “While I think the goal is still to become a household name, it starts with us being able to provide the best product to as many households that want it. … We grew in the middle of COVID, so we faced a lot of the same issues other businesses faced, but we had to be focused on who we are and do it all with sound business principles.”
For most startup restaurants, the key to gaining financing is to learn to walk the tightrope of running a lean business, while investing enough capital in the brand to stand out to potential investors and business partners. For Slutty Vegan, that means being very metrics-focused, paying close attention to its P&L, and teaching the team to do more with less, Crain said. The second part of the formula is making sure that your concept is higher quality than potential competitors, which was especially crucial for Slutty Vegan at the height of the plant-based burger craze.
Now that Slutty Vegan has built out a brand and gained national attention, the next step is to inject enough cash into the concept to facilitate growth.
“Right now, our brand name is much bigger than our business,” Crain said. “We’re well-known across the country, but not everyone in the country can access our products.”
That’s why building relationships in the industry is crucial to the long-term health of a restaurant startup, as well as identifying the best financial partners to help boost expansion goals.
“We want people on our cap table that have built brands, who understand food and food service,” Crain said. “We want investors that understand branding and how to scale a brand, and so far, that’s exactly who we have, and their guidance is irreplaceable.”
Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected]
Learn more from Jason Crain at CREATE: The Experience, where he will speak with NRN senior editor Joanna Fantozzi about securing partners and financing that can turbocharge your brand’s growth, Oct. 1-3 in Palm Springs.