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AI startup founders return to speak with 2024 summer cohort at The Hatchery
cohort sitting around table at the hatchery

The Hatchery, Emory’s Center for Innovation, welcomed AI startup founders Shashwat Murarka and Alissa Cohan to share their insights and experiences with the current cohort of 14 ventures in The Hatchery’s 2024 Summer Accelerator program.

The Hatchery, Emory’s Center for Innovation, welcomed two of its distinguished program alumni back for an engaging session designed to inspire and guide the next generation of student entrepreneurs.

Shashwat Murarka 23C, founder of, and Alissa Cohan 25T, founder of tapfer, shared their insights and experiences with the current cohort of 14 ventures in The Hatchery’s 2024 Summer Accelerator program.

Murarka and Cohan addressed a range of topics crucial for budding entrepreneurs, including the pros and cons of venture capital (VC) funding and the importance of building the right team, spending time with potential customers and aligning key performance indicators with their venture’s core mission.

Murarka has made significant strides with, a visual guidance system that helps delivery drivers navigate the last 500 feet of delivery. He attributes much of his success to assembling the right team and leveraging The Hatchery’s resources.

He is currently a Founder-in-Residence at Antler after he was awarded $500,000 in funding by the VC firm and is backed by Kleiner Perkins scout Sean Henry and others. Murarka recently secured second place at the 2023-24 TiEU Global Pitch Competition and has been recognized at multiple pitch competitions and awards, including First Pitch Friday: University Edition, the Emory Entrepreneur Awards and Goizueta Business School’s Student Launch Accelerator.

Meanwhile, Cohan has been making waves with tapfer, a platform that partners care seekers with licensed spiritual health providers, boasting a 90% match rate. Instead of VC funding, tapfer pursued grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Together with co-founder Jennifer Mascaro at Emory School of Medicine, tapfer will launch phase two of a pilot within the breast cancer clinic at Winship Cancer Institute.

For Cohan, knowing that tapfer is building one of the first spiritual health databases in the country is personally fulfilling. Cohan was recognized in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Startups to Watch in 2024 and is a finalist for an upcoming Missional Labs accelerator program.

“This is meaningful for me because at the core of pioneering tapfer, I am pioneering digital spiritual health,” says Cohan. “Even deeper than that, I am a theology student, and the idea for tapfer is rooted in connecting the spiritual/religious dimension of healing into primary and behavioral healthcare models.”

Alumni Shashwat Murarka and theology student Alissa Cohan spoke with members of The Hatchery’s 2024 Summer Accelerator program about venture capital funding, building the right team, spending time with customers and aligning key performance indicators.

Ben Garrett, interim director of The Hatchery, emphasized the value of such alumni interactions.

“Getting feedback from program alumni, hearing what their biggest challenges were and how they approached them provides our current student founders with valuable information on how to navigate some of their looming issues,” he says. “Opportunities like this underscore The Hatchery’s commitment to nurturing entrepreneurial talent and providing a robust support system for student founders.”

As the 2024 Summer Accelerator cohort continues its journey, the insights from Murarka and Cohan will undoubtedly help shape the future of their ventures, reinforcing the community and learning environment that The Hatchery fosters.

About The Hatchery, Emory’s Center for Innovation

The Hatchery supports innovators and entrepreneurs from all Emory schools and serves as Emory’s epicenter for exploring what’s possible. It empowers students with the skills and mindsets to be purpose-driven and effective innovators and entrepreneurs who drive demonstrable social and economic impact. Housed within a 15,000-square-foot creativity and collaboration space, The Hatchery offers mentoring and program support for all stages of innovation — from inspiration and learning to startups.

Visit The Hatchery’s website to learn more about The Hatchery Accelerator. To stay up to date on all The Hatchery’s programs, subscribe to the newsletter.

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