Derek Cha was born and raised in the Republic of South Korea. At the age of 12, Cha immigrated to the United States. In 1985, Cha started two framing businesses named "Art and Frame Depot" and "Art and Frame Warehouse". He eventually grew them into a large chain of 80 stores nationwide that were generating between $5 to $10 million a year in revenues, but as the housing market declined in 2006 and the US economy went into recession a couple of years later, Cha found his stores struggling. By 2009 few of those 80 stores remained open, and none were operating profitably. Six months later, after much prayer with his wife, Cha opted for a completely new venture - frozen yogurt.
In 2009, Cha and his wife opened the first Sweet Frog in Short Pump, Virginia. It was their first self-service frozen yogurt shop. Several months later, on July 7, they opened their second store, this one in Chesterfield, which was even more successful than the first store. Their next stores were then opened in Chesterfield, Richmond, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Williamsburg, Virginia. The growth continued in 2011, as Sweet Frog opened 29 stores, and the growth accelerated in 2012 as 113 more Sweet Frog stores opened, most of which occurred in the eastern states of Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, South Carolina and Pennsylvania. On April 17, 2012, at a time when Sweet Frog had 180 stores operating in the United States and a few foreign countries, Boxwood Capital Partners bought into Derek Cha's vision of growth and made a minority investment into Sweet Frog Enterprises, LLC, the company that owns and operates Sweet Frog.