Diego Benitez

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Diego Benitez is an American entrepreneur. Diego started Progress Brewing in 2013 and is based in Los Angeles, CA.[1]

Diego Benitez,  of Progress BrewingDiego Benitez, of Progress Brewing


Progress Brewing


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Early Career

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Progress Brewing

Diego started Progress Brewing in 2013. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: [1]

Q: How did you get started on Progress Brewing?

I graduated with a PhD in chemistry in 2005 and after working in academia for a few years as a nanotechnology researcher, I joined a small angel venture investment firm as a technology analyst.

One option was to get a regular job, or… we could start a brewery.

I participated in the founding of a few angel-backed companies and as the venture fund dried up, I joined one of the portfolio companies as Chief Technology Officer. The company, Amicrobe, Inc. is focused on developing biomaterials to address antibiotic resistance.

With the help of another chemist, Kevin Ogilby, we revamped and scaled-up peptide synthesis to manufacture Amicrobe’s product candidates. Synthetic peptide chemistry is not a 9-5 thing, so we would have long schedules with long breaks in between.

Kevin and I would take several-hour-long lunches at a local Belgian Beer spot (Lucky Baldwins in Pasadena) and again, as the funds dried up, we started thinking about potential next steps.

One option was to get a regular job, or… we could start a brewery.

I had homebrewed for many years before, and did not take much convincing to get Kevin involved. We started home brewing together almost every Saturday and studying the Beer Judge Certification Program curriculum - this involved buying several examples of every beer style on earth (hundreds of different styles) and do tasting studies and quiz each other blind, hard work, I know. This lasted approximately 2 years.

At this point, the company we worked for decided to move to San Diego to start pre-clinical studies on the drug candidates. We used this opportunity to visit as many San Diego Breweries as we could, taking notes of what we liked and what we did not like.

This was great research on equipment, market, typical do’s and don'ts of startup breweries. After helping the company move to San Diego and transfering all our knowledge to a contract manufacturer, Kevin and I returned to Los Angeles focused on starting a brewery.

We visited many cities in Los Angeles County and settled on business-friendly South El Monte. South El Monte had the cheapest rents, ample parking, lots of residential areas around, and no breweries within 10ish miles. We had saved as much as we could from our salaries and took the plunge in July 2012 by signing a lease on a building with a little more than $100K in cash and $50K in credit card room of startup capital.

While waiting for permit approvals, we did a lot of small-scale brewing, and had parties to taste test beers we made. We saw that our chemistry backgrounds, and our drug manufacturing experience came in very useful in the design and early running of the brewery.

We especially valued the year-and-a-half long weekly beer blind tastings and study sessions to develop our general beer knowledge and palate. Being able to tell apart small differences in taste allowed us to ensure consistency and repeatability in our brewing process, key factors in developing beers as actual products.

At this point, we had settled on a few recipes that people really liked. I can’t stress enough how valuable it was to know everything we could about the brewing process and what others had gone through to open and successfully run a microbrewery.

Source [1]



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