Daniel Ha is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Disqus, a global online commenting system he started with middle school and college classmate Jason Yan. Ha majored in computer science engineering at UC Davis before dropping out to join the startup world full-time. As co-founders of Disqus, he and Yan adopted a philosophy of improving upon their platform quickly and often, usually based on the feedback they got from their users. The pair understood that speed is critical to tech startups, which have the advantage of being able to iterate on the fly. Disqus now reaches more than 700 million unique visitors each month, powering discussions about almost every topic in nearly every type of community imaginable.
No longer a stranger to running a startup, Ha shared his best entrepreneurial advice in an Inc. article last year, saying that the learned lessons combined with the right perspective are the best advice. According to the young entrepreneur, receiving advice isn’t enough. “Even the most popular, agreeable advice is an invitation for you to make your own mistakes to learn from,” he writes, adding that no two situations are the same, so advice is only relevant if you understand the entire context.
When it comes to competition, Ha recommends not getting intimidated by other companies that may be more experienced or have more funds. Instead, startups should be on the lookout for opportunities that can help propel them to success. Speaking of which, everyone has a different definition of success; thus, it’s important to specify what it means for your company so you stay on track. As Ha put it, “You can work for hours answering emails, reacting to people, and addressing issues as they come up, and still make zero progress on the goals that you’ve defined.”
Based in downtown San Francisco, Disqus is backed by Y Combinator, North Bridge Venture Partners, and Union Square Ventures, among others.