Inaugural Hunter Brooks Watson “Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards”

Award winners 2018

This year’s iPrize also included $10,000 in Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship awards, made possible through the generosity of the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund.  The purpose of this Fund is to encourage young people to follow their dreams, to think outside-the-box, and to be all they are meant to be.

The Fund was established to provide assistance to entrepreneurial students who display real passion for their venture or ideas.  The Fund recognizes young people who exemplify enthusiasm in wanting to be the best at something, and honors Hunter Brooks Watson, a Syracuse student at the iSchool who tragically lost his life as a passenger in an automobile accident in 2016. Hunter demonstrated a strong gift and enthusiasm in music, computer technology, performance art and entrepreneurship. The students selected for the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Award follow in that mold.

Hunter Brooks Watson in a winter scene

Hunter Brooks Watson

At this year’s iPrize competition, $2,500 in each of the four competition categories were awarded to student teams.  This year’s inaugural Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship award winners in each category were:

  • Product – Julia Haber ‘18, Newhouse, founder of WAYV
  • Service – Chase Guttman ‘18, Newhouse, founder of Chase Higher
  • Software/IT – Scott Pecoriello ‘20, Arts and Sciences, founder of Weather Optics
  • Sustainability – Jason Kuperberg ’18, Arts and Sciences; Serena DeSeta ’18, Whitman School; and Matthew Goodman ’19, Visual and Performing Arts (VPA)

Serving as judges were Hunter Brooks Watson’s four closest friends, who all graduate in May 2018.  Judging criteria included:

  • Passion and spirit
  • Intrinsic drive that pushed the entrepreneurs to pursue this venture and likeliness that the team will pursue the venture
  • Cooperation
  • Level of cooperation and candor between the team members
  • Innovativeness and capability
  • The team has an innovative idea and a clear plan as to the continuation of the venture.
  • Personability and comfortability during the Q&A, showing rapport as well as competence

The awards were presented by iSchool Dean Liz Liddy with two of Hunter’s close friends, Matthieu Menand and Jason Reif, who serve on the founder’s committee for the Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund.  The non-profit fund was established by friends and colleagues in memory of Hunter Watson.

The Hunter Brooks Watson Memorial Fund also manages a separate annual grants program, with individual grants up to $5,000 available to help support young people who have passionate interests in areas comparable to Hunter, but who may not have the financial means to follow their passions.  A $5,000 award, announced in March 2018, was also awarded to Syracuse University student Tay Lotte who is co-founder of Ravle a platform that allows travelers to customize and book full trips through travel videos created by the world’s top travel filmmakers.  A member of University College’s creative leadership program, Tay will use her grant to continue to work on her startup venture while completing her Syracuse University degree.  Cassandra Couwenberg another Syracuse University student, also received a grant to purchase camera equipment to expand her business through the memorial fund.

“Hunter’s interest and ability to foresee the developing trends of his age can be found in many kids like Hunter,” said his father Jerry Watson, “and those are the youth this fund will seek to support with their ideas, enthusiasm and dreams.”

Photo caption, left to right:  2018 Hunter Brooks Watson Spirit of Entrepreneurship award winners, Scott Pecoriello, Chase Guttman, Julia Haber, Tay Lotte, Serena DeSeta, Jason Kuperberg, Jason Reif and Matthieu Menand

Learn more about the fund here: