Mokhtarzada Hatchery Selects 2021-22 Teams

AlphaLabs, Athenus, Mindgrasp and Shellter will be the first cohort of companies to join the student startup accelerator.
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The Mokhtarzada Hatchery announced today the first four teams that will join the student startup accelerator. The 2021-22 teams—selected for their ideas that target interesting problems with focus and passion—are AlphaLabs, Athenus, Mindgrasp and Shellter.

“The entire panel was very impressed with the applicants to our inaugural program,” said Idris Mokhtarzada. “It was very difficult to narrow down to just four companies, and we chose the companies who we thought would benefit most from the program.”

The Mokhtarzada Hatchery was launched in 2021 to help University of Maryland students develop and launch startups. Created by alumni brothers Haroon Mokhtarzada (B.A. ’01, economics), Idris Mokhtarzada (B.S. ’10, computer science) and Zeki Mokhtarzada (B.S. ’01, computer science), the Hatchery provides dedicated working space and mentors to help student entrepreneurs get their fearless ideas and startups into the best shape possible. Each team can also request funding up to $10,000 per year.

“It’s important for us because we started our first business at UMD,” Haroon said. “And I think there’s something right about coming back to the place you started.”

Each team will be paired with a successful entrepreneur who will be the team’s mentor. The students will meet regularly with their mentor and report their progress. The meetings will also be a place for students to discuss the challenges they’re working through, get assistance, and learn from their peers and mentors who may have overcome similar obstacles.

“I don’t think you could do this at just any school,” Idris said. “At Maryland, you have an incredible program, incredible professors, incredible students, incredible alumni. Plenty of alumni have gone on to do great things. We want to continue that and make that happen more often.”

Read on to learn more about the 2021-22 teams.


AlphaLabs aims to bring the field of quantitative finance to inexperienced retail investors. The company will provide the tools and frameworks necessary for users to write simple programs that represent complex investing strategies and handle computationally heavy tasks like backtesting, benchmarking and live trading. The team includes:

  • Ryan Downing, computer science and finance double-degree student
  • Bryan Houlton, computer science major
  • Steven Struglia, computer science major

Athenus Financial Group, LLC

Athenus is the first fintech app focused on amateur foreign exchange traders. The company makes trading on the foreign exchange market easier by simplifying the market in a way that is more digestible and by using machine learning and artificial intelligence to analyze the market so that users can make informed decisions. The team includes:

  • Damian Shaw, computer science major
  • Cameron Williams, mechanical engineering major


Mindgrasp strives to bring efficiency to the classroom by making course material comprehension easy. utilizes artificial intelligence to break down course material into its key points to use as a supplemental tool for a student’s learning process. Students can enter documents, textbooks, handwritten notes or even video lectures into the website, and easily comprehensible notes are right at their fingertips. The team includes:

  • Thai Cao, computer science major
  • Rushil Joshi, computer science major
  • Jake Scarbath, finance major


Shellter is a cross-platform app that allows students to connect with one another by finding and joining course group chats simply by entering their course schedules. The app updates the course chat rooms every semester and automatically places students into chat rooms according to their schedules. Shellter also has social features including a confessions page and a profile social feed. The team includes:

  • Daniel Park, computer engineering major
  • Zach Zhao, computer science and finance double major

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