Trisha Prabhu: A Neuqua Graduate Makes A Change

Patricia Novak, Staff Writer

On Aug. 31 2022, Neuqua Alumni Trisha Pabhu visited the 95th Street Library to discuss her new book, “ReThink the Internet: How to Make the Digital World a lot Less Sucky.” Prabhu has dedicated much of her life to ending bullying in the age of social media. She created the app “ReThink,” which detects online harassment and bullying before a message is even sent. Prabhu and ReThink have received countless awards and recognitions, having been invited to the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit by President Barack Obama, and appearing on Shark Tank.

At the event, Prabhu talked about what inspired her as not only a writer, but an entrepreneur as well. Her first project, called “ReThink,”a very successful anti-cyberbullying app. Her research, now acclaimed by Google and Harvard, was a nine month long process. It proved that 93% of the time, the cyber bully chose not to send the hurtful message. 

She started her app at just thirteen years old after reading about a girl named Rebecca Sedwick, who was severely cyberbullied over the course of multiple years. Prabhu remembers reading the article and thinking “some of the messages [Sedwick] had received had just shocked [her].” She always knew cyberbullying to be a problem, but didn’t truly know the effects until then. She was so affected by the story of Sedwick that she decided that she “did not want to be a bystander to an issue like this, [she] wanted to be an upstander.” 

At such a young age, Prabhu had a big dream. She wanted to change the way people interacted with each other on the internet all over the world. She knew that people would not immediately take her seriously. She explained that what she called “naysayers,” people who thought she was “a cute, little teenage girl who cares about this problem, but they didn’t think [she] was serious.” She also brings up that her friends thought she was crazy for trying to start a business whilst in middle school, but eventually, they came around to it and agreed that it was energy worth spending. Being on “Shark Tank” on the premiere episode of season eight, was a huge step in getting her app out there. She ultimately received an offer from one of the sharks. When asked about how she got her app out initially, before appearing on “Shark Tank,” she tells her audience that creating a network is the most important thing: “Find someone who believes in your idea as much as you do and they will introduce you to more and more people who believe in your idea too.”

As a woman in business and even the technology business too, she believes heavily in women empowerment. When asked what the best piece of advice she’s ever received was, she mentioned a past female mentor and about how she told Prabhu to “always walk into a room with confidence, like you’re the most prepared person there.” She goes on to explain that as a woman, it is almost like a reflex to be “polite and behaved and to not seem arrogant.” This is especially important to her because of her biggest inspiration, her grandmother. Her grandmother was unable to receive the education and opportunities she wanted because of her gender and the time period she grew up in, so Prabhu has made it a point to honor her by taking advantage of the opportunities that are presented to her and making a difference in the world to make it a better place. 

Prabhu’s new book “ReThink the Internet,” was the main course of this event. Her purpose for writing this book was not only to expand her message of cyberbullying, but to also touch on other problems that the internet has created. She was inspired to write this book after doing some reading herself and realizing that there aren’t any internet safety books that speaks in a way that kids will actually listen. Her book is formatted in seven different short stories, each with a different character learning from their mistakes on the internet. Although the book was written for kids and teens, many parents have reached out to Prabhu thanking her for helping to explain what it is really like for kids on the internet and helping to close the generational gap between the age of technology and the age without. 

Prabhu hosted an attention-grabbing event that showcased everything that she had worked so hard to achieve in nine years. She made ground-breaking research, is the CEO of her own company, coded an app, been on “Shark Tank”, and wrote a book, all for the better of the internet. Prabhu has already inspired people all over the world and Neuqua is proud to have her as a graduate.