Like many people, Anna do Rosario ’25 became familiar with entrepreneurialism through lemonade stands that she and her siblings set up outside their Massachusetts home. While these stands nurtured her entrepreneurial spirit, the family’s stimulating dinner conversations and weekly museum trips expanded her mind.
“I’m always thinking about how things work. How can I improve this? How can this help people?” said do Rosario, a first-year student considering an economics and computer science double major at Colby. “It’s a state of being.”
As she grew up, she sought ways to transform her ideas into actions. With high school friends, she cofounded Stick ’Em, a short-lived company that sold adhesive dry-erase stickers. She also started designing an app, SYMPlicity, that used artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze symptoms of simple medical conditions for people without access to basic medical care. Now at Colby, she’s onto her next project. In collaboration with her father, Alden do Rosario, she cofounded Poll the People, a software service that offers micro-surveys for making data-backed decisions for various business dilemmas.
“I want to make market research more accessible,” she said, “and help small businesses, or even individuals, to make more informed decisions.”
The idea for Poll the People stemmed from her father’s work. A computer scientist turned entrepreneur, Alden do Rosario was developing an app and trying to decide between two logos. But he wanted to defer the choice to possible users and decided to run a comparative test of the logos. “He had to code that himself, send it out, and analyze the results,” Anna do Rosario said. “And that took copious amounts of time, effort, and creative bandwidth.”
Because not everybody has that kind of expertise and time, Anna do Rosario saw this as a business opportunity in a data-driven society and economy, which she pursued during her gap year before coming to Mayflower Hill.
The platform uses AI tools to examine the results, including the word-processing tool GPT-3, which helps assess sentiments and generates a cohesive essay for polling results that would take hours for a human to produce. “My dad and I brainstormed how to use such a powerful and ingenious language-prediction tool like GPT-3 to analyze responses,” said do Rosario, who built the wireframes for the website, produced all the content, and finalized the logo.
At Colby, she’s gathering tools that will equip her to become a better decision-maker for Poll the People.
Last fall she took a computer science course and formally began learning the coding language Python. “It has definitely awarded me the ability to understand the more technical parts of the software [of Poll the People],” she said.
She also took a deep dive into ethical concerns surrounding AI in her science, technology, and society class called Information Before and After Google: Impacts and Technologies with Data Services Librarian Kara Kugelmeyer. “I’m writing about the regulation of artificial intelligence while concurrently developing a startup that uses artificial intelligence,” she emphasized. “We spent a lot of time talking about how to regulate AI and the parties—mainly the public and private sectors—that must cooperate. It was especially fascinating to discuss this while tech companies, such as Facebook, operations come into the public eye.”
In the process, do Rosario also turned to Colby’s Davis Institute for Artificial Intelligence and its director, Amanda Stent, who previously worked on the voice recognition technology Siri, for insights on AI ethics.
“AI can be an incredibly powerful and beneficial technology if we understand it,” said do Rosario. “AI can be used to solve many, many different problems, and I think that’s why we have the institute here because it can and should be applied to any department. AI is the next frontier in knowledge discovery. There’s so much potential for discovery when students and teachers collaborate to apply these tools to their passions and fields of interest.”
Seeing its wide application, do Rosario wants to use computer science to solve economic problems in the world. After Colby, she aspires to work at a tech startup. In the long run, she hopes to lead one as its CEO.
“My dream,” she said, “is to have an idea that I’m really passionate about and let that passion guide me to success.”
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