Daniel Ha is the CEO and Co-Founder of Disqus, a free service that enables great online communities.
My first customers came from compiling a list of my favorite websites. I spent time emailing each website with a personalized message asking them to try my “new project that I was working on.” The response rate was something like 30% over time. Not bad.
Our biggest challenge is knowing what to ignore and what to focus on. There is lots of advice and tips out there. The secret is understanding how to use this advice without getting stuck in others’ “best practices” that don’t apply to your specific vision or mission.
WhenI get bogged down, it’s a sign I’m burnt out on building or creating. To fix that, I read, watch, or listen to things that inspire me like speeches, music, sports highlight reels, virtually anything that will change my point of view.
People can always have more money, resources, smarts — but we’ll be danged if we lose because someone else is hustling harder. That’s the one thing that you can always control.
Our first big investor, Fred Wilson, was one of our early super users. He cared about the product as someone who used it, and that made our initial funding conversations naturally exciting.
I grew up in Silicon Valley and was fortunate to be inspired by the companies and stories right around me. I started programming when I was around 10 years old but always understood that I cared more about the application of technology than technology itself.
Disqus is my first startup and my first full time job. I spent time doing a couple tech internships that gave me my first impressions of large companies. Sometimes I felt that it didn’t matter that much if I didn’t show up to work, and that bothered me greatly.
I studied computer science at UC Davis with our cofounder (and my childhood friend) Jason Yan before we started working on projects that we thought could have huge impact on the the way we lived online. We dropped out to start Disqus.
It wouldn’t hurt to do more in less time.