UI freshman makes thousands in stock market trade out of his dorm room

UI freshman Mahmoud Ali toyed around with business ideas in high school. Now, he trades stocks every day and has made what most achieve in their early 40s.


Thomas A. Stewart

Mahmoud Ali poses for a portrait on Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. Ali has found success in online day trading.

Aadit Tambe, News Reporter

Mahmoud Ali’s dorm room in Slater has a television screen about 60-inches wide, dedicated to display a “heat map” full of quickly shifting boxes that keeps him updated on how the stock market is doing.

Ali is a University of Iowa freshman studying pre-law and business finance. A native of Des Moines, he started trading stocks around a year ago, and he has since mastered the stock market.

“Growing up, I’ve always been into different ways to make money,” he said. “When I was younger, I would sell shoes — from middle school up until high school, I sold high-end shoes.”

Most of these shoes are released through brands such as Nike and Adidas and are sold in limited amounts, he said. Ali created bots to purchase the shoes.

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The [shoes] retailed for $350, we sold them for 1,500 or 1,600 bucks,” he said. “My friend [and I] created a bot, and I was able to get two pairs of them. As soon as I got them, I sold them right away.”

Ali said his brother inspired him start trading stocks. His brother had long told him to find some kind of a passive income.

When Ali came to the UI, he was living in a double-room, with one roommate. Not long after; however, he realized he needed a single to accommodate his setup for trading.

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“Most people think real estate … but that has a really high barrier of entry,” he said. “I have always been [interested] in the stock market, even when I was younger.”

He opened his first account with $300 and started trading stock, in companies that had a relatively small market capitalization.

“The thing about the stock market is that it can go both ways,” he said. “For example, today, I am up $35,000. That’s due to having my options contract, [a form of security] being in the money. When [it] is in the money, it means all the profits go to you, and you’re not splitting with anyone else.”

Ali said it can be dangerous if you don’t know how to position yourself.

Mahmoud Ali explains his stock market set up in his dorm room in Slater Hall. (Thomas A. Stewart/The Daily Iowan)

“When I’m trading, it is stressful,” he said. “You can see that much money being lost. If I say I have made this much money in a day, there have been days when I have lost exactly as much.”

Ali said his parents have been supportive of him trading stock, but they also encourage him to be conservative. His parents and his brother urged him to save and will not allow him to withdraw all the money from his account.

“The stock market can take everything away in an instant,” he said. “My parents, my brother can see that account, and they pretty much manage it.”

Ali’s goal is to work as an attorney for a hedge fund. He is trying to arrange his schedule in a way that will give him more time to focus on stock trade, he said.

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“Mahmoud was very smart in class,” said Aaliyah Fenceroy, Ali’s friend from high school. “He always had so many goals [in life]. But it was always so much fun to be around him.”

Fenceroy said Ali was always ready to help his friends with solving problems.

“I met Mahmoud because he was very social,” said Otto Gunderson, another of Ali’s friends from high school. “He first texted me when he made money from trading. When we were in high school, he was always looking into getting into the stock market.”

Gunderson said when he warned Ali about the risks of the stock market, Ali told him he knew what he was doing. He is proud of Ali today and proud of his achievements.

“When everyone else gets greedy, I get fearful, and when everyone else gets fearful, I get greedy,” Ali said.

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