Summary of Living Proof

Onyx Moonshine’s Journey to Revive the American Spirit: Business Principles from the Mind of a Moonshiner

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Living Proof book summary
An entrepreneur explains how he cultivated a market for an unlikely luxury item: moonshine whiskey.


7 Overall

7 Applicability

7 Innovation

8 Style


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.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the Onyx Spirits Company revived the US tradition of distilling moonshine whiskey,
  • How the company repositioned moonshine as a premium spirit and
  • How Onyx used guerrilla-marketing techniques to cultivate demand.


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.

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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.

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