Vital Voices presents “An Evening with Adam von Gootkin: Business Principles from the Mind of a Moonshiner.”

This is not your grandfather’s moonshine!

In what promises to be a “spirited” discussion on Wednesday, December 2, Goodwin College presents the latest in Vital Voices: The T. Boone Pickens Endowed Lecture Series in Education, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. Connecticut author and entrepreneur Adam von Gootkin will discuss his newly released book, Living Proof: Onyx Moonshine’s Journey to Revive the American Spirit. The book was published by Career Press with a forward by famed football coach and ESPN commentator Mike Ditka.

von Gootkin will share the story of how, in just a few short years, he and business partner Pete Kowalczyk established their start-up business concept for Onyx Spirits Company, learning along the way from failure, breaking rules, and going against the status quo. His discussion will offer a mid-journey snapshot of building a company from the ground up as well as tips and tools for entrepreneurs about shining in the business world — by shooting for the moon.

Vital Voices is von Gootkin’s second collaboration with Goodwin. Last summer, he co-sponsored the hugely successful “Secret Stash Beer Bash,” a competition among Connecticut breweries that raised funds to support scholarships for deserving students at the college. “I take pride in helping future entrepreneurs succeed in their future endeavors,” he said, “and I love the Goodwin College spirit!”

Joining von Gootkin for a panel discussion will be restauranteur Peter Guimaraes, partner at AOA Bar and Grill in NYC, and managing partner of Cuvee Bar and Restaurant in West Hartford. Guimaraes is also the co-owner of Tipsy Girl Bar in NYC and has been featured on The Real Housewives of NYC on Bravo TV. MaryEllen Fillo, former columnist of the Hartford Courant’s Java, will moderate the discussion.

There will be a pre- reception with light refreshments at 6 p.m. in the College Community Room. The Vital Voices conversation begins at 7 p.m. A book signing follows at 7:45 with books available for purchase.

Reservations can be made through EventBrite: or on the homepage of the Goodwin College website at Admission is free. Attendees are requested to bring nonperishable food items to fill a Honda Odyssey, which will be displayed on the Goodwin campus in partnership with the Hoffman Auto Group’s Honda Against Hunger Food Drive. Donations will go to Foodshare and the Connecticut Food Bank to assist local families in need.


About Vital Voices: The T. Boone Pickens Endowed Lecture Series in Education, Innovation and Entrepreneurship:

Each year, Goodwin College hosts several lectures on first-hand perspectives of leaders who are making a mark in business and in the community. Previous speakers have included former presidential candidate and editor of Forbes Magazine Steve Forbes, award-winning journalist and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell, and entrepreneur Stew Leonard.