UMD Celebrates Third Annual Mokhtarzada Hatchery Demo Day

With Hatchery support, UMD students started innovative businesses, from teaching people how to communicate with generative AI to creating personalized marketing assistants. 
Descriptive image for UMD Celebrates Third Annual Mokhtarzada Hatchery Demo Day

At the University of Maryland, innovative student entrepreneurs are not just imagining solutions for tomorrow’s challenges—they’re actively building them. From advanced software tools to AI-driven platforms, these young innovators are turning their visionary ideas into startups with the support of the Mokhtarzada Hatchery program. Launched in 2021 by UMD alumni Haroon, Idris and Zeki Mokhtarzada, the incubator program has become a vital resource for students eager to launch their own companies.

Descriptive ImageOn May 7, 2023, the Hatchery held its third annual Demo Day at Antonov Auditorium, where the latest cohort—Frozen Software, Learn Prompting, Sociable AI and SynTag—presented the innovative ideas that they had been working on over the past year. The teams were selected for their compelling solutions to everyday problems and have benefited from an environment that nurtures both their entrepreneurial spirit and technical skills. 

Zeki Mokhtarzada expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to give back to the university community that shaped his entrepreneurial journey.

“It's gratifying to be back here contributing to the community that once gave so much to me,” he stated. “I encourage everyone to apply to such programs because opportunities like this motivate and provide the extra push needed to persevere. If you don't apply, you'll always wonder what could have been.”

The Hatchery supports its teams with up to $10,000 in funding, access to mentors with entrepreneurial success and workspace in the Brendan Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering. This comprehensive backing guides teams from the conceptual stage through developing and refining their projects, preparing them for the competitive market. 

Descriptive ImageThe Mokhtarzada brothers, who actively mentor the students, sold their first startup,, to VistaPrint for $117.5 million in 2011. More recently, Rocket Companies acquired the subscription management app they created, Truebill (now Rocket Money), for nearly $1.3 billion in 2021.

Zeki highlighted the student teams' rapid adoption of industry trends, emphasizing their proactive engagement with current technologies.

“It's just amazing how quickly the students grasp what's happening in the industry,” Zeki shared. “Over the summer, we were thinking maybe we should encourage a focus on AI, but it happened organically. The trends we're seeing in the industry are exactly what these students are catching onto.” 

Descriptive ImageThe day’s keynote speaker, Manpreet Singh, chief investment officer at Singh Capital Partners, was particularly impressed by the potential and scope of the projects.

“I was incredibly impressed with the presentations, the speakers and the audience's insightful questions,” Singh remarked. “It was surprising to see companies building products with such massive market potential here. I could personally use three of them. I was also very impressed that the Mokhtarzada brothers had been very helpful in providing their invaluable advice to these founders because they needed it at this stage of their businesses.”  

This year's teams shared their development since entering the Hatchery.

Frozen Software 

Aveek Mishra (B.S. '25, computer science) is the founder and CEO of Frozen Software, a subscription service that aims to improve how e-commerce shoppers and resellers find deals. The team also includes Erik Stomp, an alum of the University of Texas at Austin.   

Frozen Software searches the web for millions of deals and coupons, identifying the best discounts for users, sometimes as much as 100% off. Its advanced auto-checkout technology finalizes the purchase for its customers without any hassle.

Descriptive ImageMishra wants his startup to revolutionize the shopping experience by connecting deal seekers with the best discounts.

“Our startup offers an enhanced shopping experience by enabling discount enthusiasts and savvy shoppers to access the best deals available on Amazon,” Mishra said. “We monitor millions of products for deals and have a community of users engaging with our deals daily. Our platform identifies exceptional deals on Amazon, considers price history and stackability, and puts them in front of people who may otherwise miss out due to limited time or resources.”

Mishra outlined the startup's strategy moving forward.

"Currently, our startup is primarily focused on the automated checkout of extremely high-discount deals, with many paid subscribers taking advantage of our awesome finds," Mishra shared. "We aim to make the deals we find accessible to a much larger audience. In the near future, we anticipate having a free-to-access deals catalog used by millions of online shoppers."

The platform has grown to amass over 1,000 subscribers and has saved over $88 million for its customers, a success Mishra attributes partially to guidance and resources provided by UMD.

As they move into their next business phase, Mishra described his experience with the Hatchery as “rewarding.”

"The Hatchery program played a huge role in the growth of our startup by consistently motivating us to scale up and expand the scope of our business," Mishra explained. "The brothers offered great guidance, and having the opportunity to bounce ideas around with other builders was extremely beneficial. Additionally, being forced to think about our goals and priorities every week kept us organized and working in the right direction."

Learn Prompting 

Led by Sander Schulhoff (B.S. '24, computer science), Learn Prompting is a pioneering open-source AI guide and prompt engineering resource. Schulhoff launched Learn Prompting with his co-founder, Fady Yanni, as an e-learning platform and AI research lab focused on teaching the latest generative AI skills. The project is building a training platform for an AI-integrated workforce and crafting a content library tailored to enterprises.

Descriptive ImageSchulhoff discussed the evolution of Learn Prompting and outlined the startup's achievements and future direction in generative AI education.

“We have taught millions of people worldwide how to do prompt engineering with tools like ChatGPT and DALLE,” Schulhoff said. “We are a business-to-consumer course subscription service and are pivoting into business-to-business to do more enterprise training.”

Learn Prompting is now the largest and most comprehensive online course in prompt engineering. It features over 60 content modules, translations into nine languages and a thriving community.

Schulhoff discussed the significant support received from the Hatchery, highlighting its impact on their business growth.

“The Hatchery has been extraordinarily helpful in terms of advice, funding and resources,” Schulhoff shared. “Advice from people who have founded a billion-dollar business is unsurprisingly what has had the biggest effect on our business.”

Sociable AI

Sung Hyun Noh (B.S. '24, immersive media design) founded Sociable AI, a next-generation conversational AI marketing solution tailored for brands. The intuitive web app assists companies facing challenges with social media engagement by streamlining conversational AI creation and deployment. The team also comprises Erik Chou (B.S. '24, computer science), Nikita Shavirin (B.S. ’23, computer science) and An Tran (B.S. ’25, computer science).

Sociable AI's user-friendly web app empowers brands struggling with social media engagement, such as messages and comments, streamlining the creation, testing and deployment of conversational AI. 

Descriptive Image"Sociable AI is transforming brands' and marketers' day-to-day operations," Noh said. "We let brands customize AI social media managers to automate tasks considered unscalable, such as social selling. Our technology saves time and resources and helps brands increase engagement and grow faster."

Noh highlighted a significant milestone for the startup, outlining future plans and ambitions.

"I am happy to announce that we recently surpassed our first 500 users," Noh shared. "We are planning to go full-time on the startup after this semester. In the next few years, we hope to become the standard tool for all marketers."

Noh underscored the importance of focus and strategic guidance in their startup’s rapid growth.

"As a rapidly growing startup, it is crucial to stay razor-focused on the things that matter most for growth," Noh said. "The guidance we received during the program helped us identify those things quickly and avoid mistakes that could have wasted lots of time and resources. The co-working space was also integral to helping us grow faster."


Vikram Khandelwal (B.S. '25, computer science; B.S. '25, mathematics), the founder and CEO of SynTag, recognized artificial intelligence's potential to modernize customer interactions. SynTag leverages AI to transform customer service platforms, offering real-time resolutions, generating dynamic FAQs and significantly reducing response times. In addition to Khandelwal, Max Kaufmann (B.S. '25, computer science) and Vivek Nadig (B.S. '26, computer science) are part of the team. 

Khandelwal emphasized the importance of reliable and efficient communication tools in today's business landscape.

“SynTag is important for businesses to ensure a positive customer experience over the phone,” Khandelwal said. “More than 76% of consumers prefer phone calls for customer support. SynTag excels by providing human-like, low-latency voices supported by knowledge bases and APIs, ensuring 100% uptime, accurate responses and a seamless customer experience.”

As SynTag evolves, several promising developments are on the horizon.

Descriptive Image“SynTag is currently nearing the end of the minimum viable product phase and starting to grow with several customers,” Khandelwal said. “In the near future, SynTag will offer a dashboard where users can create and tune their voice agents, purchase phone numbers, and analyze their agents' success. We will also develop industry-specific features, such as a retail agent who can call customers who have abandoned their carts to help them complete their purchases.”

Reflecting on the impact of the Hatchery, Khandelwal highlighted the valuable lessons and growth experienced through the program.

“The Hatchery taught me many lessons, like 'simpler is better' and 'find your niche,” Khandelwal shared. “I loved hanging out with other ambitious entrepreneurs and identifying with their struggles and successes. Because of the Hatchery, I have grown as an entrepreneur and leader, and now know what to look for, what levers to pull and how to measure success in a startup company like SynTag.” 

—Story by Samuel Malede Zewdu, CS Communications 

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