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Expanding too quickly threatens start-up companies

Steve Case's Revolution Growth Group will invest $22 million in an East-Coast salad company, but he warned the shop's co-founder about expanding at rapid speed.

Expanding too soon is the "worst possible mistake" for entrepreneurs.

"There are a lot of concepts that people are so eager to try to make them into the leader, they push a little too fast and get off track and off the rails or don't get the right people and lose the culture that makes it so special," Steve Case, founder of Revolution Growth Group, said Wednesday during an Afternoon MoJoe web-exclusive interview.

Case's company will invest $22 million in Sweetgreen, a farm-to-table salad shop with locations along the East Coast. Revolution's decision to contribute to the expansion of Sweetgreen marks its first investment related to food, not technology.

"We think there's an opportunity to build it in the leading brand and the space," said Case, an entrepreneur who is also the co-founder of America Online. "You don't really have a brand that really resonates with millions of people around healthy choices, and that's what Sweetgreen is all about."

Jonathan Neman and two other graduates from Georgetown University established the shop in 2007. They believed the community would benefit from a healthy, delicious, and eco-friendly dining option.

But the store's purpose goes beyond the quality of food; the entire experience--the people, environment, and philosophy behind its creation--make it a meaningful destination, Neman said.

"It's this idea of creating experiences where passion and purpose come together," he said during the interview. "I think people really, really like that. They like that it's more than just food. They really associate with it. It's a lifestyle for them."

The store's 22 current locations include areas in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland, Philadelphia, Boston, and New York City. The new investment will assist with the founders' hope of reaching 100 stores by 2017.

Afternoon MoJoe interviewed Case earlier this year about Revolution's investment in Lolly Wolly Doodle, a children's clothing store that processes 90% of its sales through social media.

Watch: Facebook fuels kiddie clothing business to the tune of $20 million

Be sure to watch other web-exclusive interviews and roundtable discussions right here in the Afternoon MoJoe section of the website.

Watch Morning Joe's interview with Case and Neman: