Summary of Living Proof

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  • Applicable
  • Concrete Examples
  • Engaging


Successful products fill a need – even if customers don’t realize they have that need. No focus group ever demanded notepaper with weak glue. But when Post-it Notes appeared, people couldn’t live without them. Similarly, not many people clamored for moonshine whiskey when author Adam von Gootkin co-founded the Onyx Spirits Company. He and his partner, Peter Kowalczyk, attracted customers by crafting an image for moonshine that celebrated its historical roots while updating it as a premium whiskey. They made sure people heard about it through creative guerrilla tactics, both conventional – in-store tastings – and outrageous, such as launching a bottle of Onyx moonshine into space. Von Gootkin explains how to start a business and offers hard-won wisdom on writing a business plan, securing funds, hiring staff, marketing on the cheap and dealing with setbacks. This inspiring, snappy corporate bio seasons its practical advice with humor and illuminating anecdotes. getAbstract recommends it to any entrepreneur planning or launching a start-up.

About the Author

Entrepreneur and Onyx Spirits Company co-founder Adam von Gootkin’s other ventures include event planning, e-commerce and muscle car restoration.




Entrepreneurship begins with an idea. The idea might offer a solution to a problem, like the proverbial “better mousetrap.” Or it might fill a need, like Facebook. Or it might make life a little more fun in the way a premium whiskey can.

If you can figure out how to sell your idea, you’ll make money – perhaps a lot of it. Successful entrepreneurs gain more than a source of income. With the right idea, you can win the freedom to break away from the status quo and craft a life of creativity and passion, a life that allows you to get up every morning to do what you love.

Onyx Spirits Company co-founder Adam von Gootkin pursued this freedom by following an improbable route. He and his business partner, Peter Kowalczyk, revived the art of distilling moonshine – familiarly known as generally illegal corn-based, home-distilled whiskey – and repositioned it as an exemplar of luxury and elegance. To succeed, they had to learn about an unfamiliar industry, thread a labyrinth of federal and state regulations, and outmaneuver some of world’s biggest companies. Von Gootkin learned unique business lessons as a moonshiner and realized he could inspire other entrepreneurs...

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