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Entrepreneur of the Year Award

The Award

In partnership with the Kingston Wealth Management Group, the George R. and Martha Means Center for Entrepreneurial Studies recognizes two special people each year for their entrepreneurial accomplishments. The Kingston Wealth Management Group Entrepreneur of the Year Award honors a member of the local business community whose long-term achievements reflect a dedication to the spirit and practice of entrepreneurship. The CommuterAds Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognizes an alumnus/alumna of Illinois State University who has achieved outstanding entrepreneurial success since graduating. The Entrepreneur of the Year Awards Dinner is held each year in November. This year, the ceremony will be held on: 

Thursday, November 1, 2018
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel 
5:30 pm Cocktails 
6:30 pm Dinner & Awards

2018 Award Winners

Kingston Wealth Management Group Entrepreneur of the Year Award


Destihl Brewery | CEO/Brewmaster

Matt PottsMatt grew up on a farm near Williamsfield, Illinois (west of Peoria), with his parents, Les & Diane Potts, and older brother, Mark. He attended the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, receiving his B.S. degree in Agriculture with High Honors in 1991.  Matt attended DePaul University College of Law, and then practiced law with his uncle at Whitney & Potts, Ltd., in Elmwood, Illinois from 1994-2005. 

Matt’s career direction began to change soon after he started home brewing in 1995, after receiving his first homebrew kit as a Christmas gift from his wife, Lyn.  Matt’s passion for the art & science of brewing, and general interest in starting a craft brewery quickly grew. In 2001, Matt and Lyn opened their first brewpub in Elmwood, although Matt continued to practice law at the same time.

By 2005, Matt decided to pursue his entrepreneurial passion full-time, so he and Lyn moved their family to Normal to open DESTIHL® Restaurant & Brew Works.  Matt attended the Siebel Institute of Technology in Chicago to secure his certification as an Associate in Brewing Technology. At the same time, Matt and Lyn broke ground on DESTIHL and began working with a group of experienced restaurant operators, namely Troy Nelson, Laurie Nelson and Jason Bratcher, to form the original DESTIHL corporate team.  This team worked together to refine the building design, restaurant concept and operational plan.

DESTIHL-Normal opened on November 23, 2007, and DESTIHL-Champaign opened on April 20, 2011.  In May 2013, DESTIHL launched its original production brewery in the G.E. Warehouses in Bloomington, Illinois.  By the end of 2015 that location ran out of capacity so in June 2016, construction began on DESTIHL Brewery's massive new 47,000 square foot destination brewery complex in Normal, Illinois.  The new DESTIHL Brewery and Beer Hall opened on May 27, 2017.

Matt currently serves as the CEO and Brewmaster of DESTIHL, where he works together with his amazing and dedicated Corporate, Management & Operational Teams to fulfill the mission and vision of DESTIHL.  The Normal and Champaign DESTIHL Brewpubs work to provide guests with innovative culinary selections, hand-crafted beer and exceptional service. The Beer Hall provides entertainment, yoga classes, event space, brewery tours, and unique casual dining in a relaxed, community environment. Meanwhile, DESTIHL Brewery strives to remain on the forefront of developing bold, industry-changing new beers, and it is rapidly growing in volume, sales and new markets. DESTIHL beers are currently distributed in 30 states, and also internationally in the U.K., Sweden and South Korea. 

Matt has been on the Board of the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild for 8 years and is presently the Chair of the Guild’s Government Affairs Committee.  This committee works to affect positive change to Illinois laws impacting the craft beer industry, such as fighting for increased production caps, self-distribution and beer transfer rights.

Matt and his wife, Lyn, from Bloomington, have been married for over 25 years.  They have three children: Zoe, Ethan, and Olivia.


Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Award


Hyde Park Angels | Board of Directors
Packback | Board of Directors 

Corey FerengulCorey Ferengul is a 1993 ISU alumnus who graduated from the Department of Marketing. He has worked closely with the George R. and Martha Means Center for Entrepreneurial Studies since its inception. Currently, he sits on the Means Center Advisory Council, and he has served multiple years as a judge in the Means Center’s Startup Showcase, a competition in which entrepreneurial students compete for access to the Means Center’s Accelerator fund.

Currently, Mr. Ferengul is wrapping up his role as Chairman and CEO of Magnetic, a leader in artificial intelligence powered digital advertising. The company was recently sold to Deloitte and he will move on after a transition. 

He is  a Board Member and active investor for Hyde Park Angels, a well-known angel investment group with a focus on funding mid-west startups.  Additionally, he serves on Boards of Directors for several companies such as, Provi Packback, and XSpace, and serves on advisory boards for several other companies.

Prior to joining Magnetic Mr. Ferengul was the CEO of Undertone, a Private Equity backed, New York-based advertising technology company which was sold in 2016. Earlier in his career he spent many years with Rovi Corporation, holding several executive roles and playing a key role in tripling revenue to over $700 M and increasing its value by 6x.. He currently lives with his wife, Melanie, in the Chicago area.



2019-07-15T09:53:27.202-05:00 2019