From boardroom to brewery: Harnessing the spirit of a start-up

By George Popescu, CEO Backed Inc, Partner at LunaCap Ventures, renowned academic and MIT alumnus, CEO at Down The Road Brewery and founder of Boston Technologies It’s not every day that a CEO in the finance industry starts a brewery as a second business. When I began my corporate career I never imagined I would […]

By George Popescu, CEO Backed Inc, Partner at LunaCap Ventures, renowned academic and MIT alumnus, CEO at Down The Road Brewery and founder of Boston Technologies

It’s not every day that a CEO in the finance industry starts a brewery as a second business. When I began my corporate career I never imagined I would one day be developing some of the world’s best-tasting beverages alongside my finance start-ups. Yet, through my craft beverage company, I’ve found a uniquely successful balance between business in the boardroom and the brewery.

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Down the Road Brewery was launched in March 2015, and has been rapidly expanding ever since. In the brewery’s first seven months, it generated a remarkable $128,000 in sales. In October alone, we’ve achieved sales of over $34,000. With such great and growing demand for our products, we’ve since built a team of 10 full time employees who support our everyday operations, and we’re expecting our workforce to continue to grow.

While Down the Road Brewery’s accomplishments are undoubtedly impressive, we aren’t the only independent brewery to be led to success by a finance executive. In recent years, industry leaders have tapped into the craft beverage business for a variety of reasons. With its ever-expanding popularity among consumers, craft brewing presents an attractive investment for the business-minded.

Perhaps more importantly, the beverage industry gives corporate workers a chance to invest their skills in a fun, creative trade where they can dream of an idea one day and hold it in their hands the next.

“Recently, two prominent industry executives have moved to the drinks industry, firstly Kasper Elbjorn, Saxo Bank’s longstanding Head of Communications, who moved to Carlsberg as Marketing Director, and Stephen Simonis, who left FXDD in New York to become Senior Marketing and Public Relations Manager at Caskers” – Andrew Saks-McLeod

The ability to see the physical manifestation of Down the Road Brewery’s achievements is an incomparable business experience. Throughout my career, I’ve focused on starting and leading some of the fastest growing and most successful trading and lending businesses in Boston and New York.

My background in science and engineering paved the way for multiple start-up ventures, which have influenced the way we manage Down the Road Brewery today. While the subject may be different, the entrepreneurial spirit required for success in the craft brewing industry remains the same. When I look around our brewery and tap room, I’m already envisioning how we will transform Down the Road Brewery into a multi-billion dollar company.

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The start-up roots of Down the Road Brewery enhance how we drive the company to success, and amplify the sense of accomplishment we feel when milestones are met. Since founding our business earlier this year, Down the Road Brewery has brought five different products to market, and we’re on track to continue launching about one new product per month.

To meet the increase in demand and growing sales, we’ve built a new warehouse, cold room and prototyping system to support our manufacturing and brewing process. It’s extremely rewarding to be able to meet the demand for your product, while brainstorming innovative solutions to expand its reach.

When we first got started, success for Down the Road Brewery meant putting in hours of hard work alongside family and friends, and finding people who were willing to help us wax high quality beer bottles in exchange for beer and pizza.

Now, success means building a community of dedicated employees, local Bostonians and almost 300 liquor stores and draft accounts who retail our products. Years from now, success will mean continuing to revolutionize how consumers across America—and throughout the world—enjoy exquisite Down the Road Brewery craft beverages, while staying true to our entrepreneurial foundation.

Building Down the Road Brewery required vision, demanding work and on-the-job learning, but it’s all worth it when you can kick back and drink a beer you created. At the end of the day, we’ve found that the beer you have a hand in making tastes better than any beer in the world. We’re glad that others seem to think the same.



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