Winners have been announced for the 2018 RvD iPrize competition, held March 23 at Syracuse University. The event, sponsored by the School of Information Studies (iSchool), was coordinated by the Blackstone LaunchPad at Syracuse University and hosted at Syracuse University Libraries.

More than 55 teams applied to compete in this year’s event, with 40 selected to pitch in the event which offered $40,000 in prizes through the Raymond von Dran (RvD) Fund for Student Entrepreneurship at the iSchool.  This year, an additional $10,000 was also awarded in inaugural Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards through an additional gift to the iSchool by a private family foundation.

The RvD iPrize also served as the regional qualifier for the 2018 New York State Business Plan Competition, and 12 student teams were selected to go on that prestigious event in Albany on April 27.

The RvD Fund was established to honor the memory of the former iSchool dean, who helped students bring their ideas to life through the spirit of entrepreneurship. Gisela von Dran, his widow, helped award prizes with iSchool Dean Liz Liddy at this year’s event.

“We are grateful to Gisela von Dran for her continued support of the entrepreneurial spirit at Syracuse University through the RvD fund,” said Dean Liddy.  “I was delighted to watch our students compete at the event, and the RvD iPrize funds will help ensure that they can keep their ventures moving forward.”

Winners included:

Sustainable and social entrepreneurship

  • Drop Top, founded by Jason Kuperberg ’18, College of Arts and Sciences, Serena DeSeta ’18, Whitman School of Management and Matthew Goodman ’19, College of Visual and Performing Arts, an ingenious design, made entirely of REVLAR, that increases agricultural output while conserving water through drip irrigation, won $3,000
  • FibreFree, founded by Serena Omo-Lamai’19 and Charles Keppler ’19, both College of Engineering a Computer Science, a laundry ball that traps microfibers, preventing them from entering aquifers and the atmosphere, won $3,s000
  • Farm to Flame, founded by Lee Mendes McKnight ’18, Maxwell School, with team members Kwaku Jyamfi ’18, College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Sayje Lasenberry ’19, SUNY ESF, a smokeless, odorless biomass generator system that leverages locally grown crops to harness the power of energy and build more sustainable rural economies, won $3,000
  • Rematriation Magazine, founded Michelle Schenandoah G‘18, Newhouse School, with operations manager Janet Flores ’18, Maxwell School, a digital storytelling platform powered by a sisterhood of Haudenosaunee women where indigenous women gather for collective healing from historical and current traumas, won $500
  • Food for Community, founded by Samantha Guillaume ’18 and Patrick Carleton ’18, both SUNY ESF, a not-for-profit that transports unused food from local schools and takes it to local pantries, won $500


  • Starfruit, founded by Nathan Elequin G 18, School of Education, a consulting services that offers workshops, on-line content and support services for schools and districts in Austin, Texas that want to integrate Google Classroom in their instruction, won $6,000
  • Fresh U, founded by Kate Beckman, G18, Newhouse School, a national online publication for college students with a focus on the freshman year, with 100,000 unique monthly visitors and 400 nationally distributed content creators, won $4,000


  • In-Spire, founded by Kayla Simon’19 and Elizabeth Tarangelo ’19, both College of Engineering and Computer Science, a wearable Albuterol inhaler for asthma patients who suffer from asthma attacks while on the go, won $6,000.
  • Anything But Beer, co-founded by Logan Bonney G’17 Whitman and Brittany Berry ’18, College of Visual and Performing Arts, which brews alcohol beverages to meet the needs of niche consumer markets that are not served by the craft brewery business, including those who are gluten-free, won $3,500
  • Bonfire in a Bin, co-founded by Will DeVito ’20, Newhouse and Nick Gold ’18, Falk, an all-in-one bonfire starter kit that is collapsible for easy storage and transport, won $500


  • Weather Optics, founded by Scott Pecoriello ’20, Arts and Sciences, a disruptive weather and data analytics company, won $5,000
  • Ravle, founded by Tay Lotte ’19, Creative Leadership, University College, and Kevin Rieck ’19, Knowledge Management, University College, for their platform that allows travelers to customize and book full trips through travel videos created by the world’s top travel filmmakers, won $3,000
  • ModoScript, founded by David Zuleta ’18, College of Arts and Sciences for a pill-safe system that is a device and software platform for physicians, health insurance providers, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare facilities, government agencies and law enforcement organizations aimed at combating and reducing costs associated with prescription drug abuse and patient non-adherence, won $2,000

“It is wonderful to see so many innovative student teams from across our schools and colleges and from ESF coming together in a thriving entrepreneurship community in the SU Libraries, and benefiting from the services of the Blackstone LaunchPad,” said Dean of Libraries David Seaman. “I know these prizes will make a significant difference to these young innovators and inventors, and I was impressed with the creativity, professionalism, and collegiality they displayed in this competition.”

Judges included alumni, successful entrepreneurs, technologists, attorneys, and area business and civic leaders.