Dec 22, 2014

Q&A With Alum Douglas Hanna

Spotlight Date:
December 23, 2014
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Founder and CEO of, Douglas Hanna began his career in web development while still a communications student at Dreyfoos. After graduating from Dreyfoos in 2009, Doug went on to study Sociology at Duke, all while becoming CEO of A Small Orange, a web-hosting company. Since graduating from Duke in 2012, Doug has given back to Dreyfoos, provided a senior with a college scholarship, sold A Small Orange, and started his new venture, Here, he talks about what led him to software development, his time at Dreyfoos, and what inspired him to support his alma mater.
Q: What is the most profound change you experienced at Dreyfoos?
The chance to flourish in an engaging, but supportive environment. It was the first time I had any significant leadership positions, which proved to be a big help for me in college and in my career.
Q: Is there something Dreyfoos could have provided that could have better prepared you for your college and career?
I don’t think so. I felt very well prepared for college and my career.
Q: Favorite Dreyfoos (SOA) teacher?
Steve Moore
Q: While still in college, you became the CEO of the web-hosting company A Small Orange, tell us how that began, and what it was like to have that role while still completing your degree.
More than anything, it was a lesson in time management. A Small Orange had about 50 employees when I graduated college, and I had been a full time student since I first got involved with the company; making it work was clearly a lot of work and required a lot of planning and prioritizing.
I became CEO at A Small Orange when I raised money from my boss at the time to leave my current job (that I had actually started while at Dreyfoos as well) and go run A Small Orange. It required a lot of faith in me from my old boss/then our investor, but luckily, it worked out and the same investor is now our lead investor in my new company.
Q: How do you think a background in art has benefitted you in the management and web development world?
Communicating effectively – both verbally and in writing – is a critical skill of managers everywhere. I learned a lot about that at Dreyfoos – both in the classroom and through my extracurricular activities.
Q: You are now the Founder and CEO of, what is developing and what inspired you to start it?
We are building customer service software for medium and large companies. I started because I had so many problems with the customer service software I was using at the companies I was involved with and figured there had to be something better. Unfortunately for me at the time, there wasn’t. However, that’s our opportunity now.
Q: What do you feel has been the highlight of your career so far?
Selling A Small Orange in July 2012 was a life-changing event for me. It was huge to have that sort of validation so early in my career and has opened a lot of doors since.
Q: Recently, you donated to the Foundation to provide a scholarship for a graduating Dreyfoos student, what made you decide to give back to Dreyfoos?
One is I benefited directly from some scholarships I got as a result of going to Dreyfoos. More importantly, though, I think Dreyfoos had a huge impact on me as a person and I think that any money I donate to Dreyfoos will be used well and is going towards an organization that needs it.
Q: Have you had the opportunity to work with any other Dreyfoos (SOA) alums?
Not yet. If any Dreyfoos alums are software engineers, though, they should call me about a job. :)
Q: What recommendations do you have for our current DSOA students?
Take advantage of what the school has to offer – the classes, the extracurricular activities, and the people. Do what you enjoy and think you have the opportunity to be good at, and a lot of the rest of the things will tend to follow. Also, I strongly recommend finding a teacher, administrator, or someone else on campus who can get to know you well and be a mentor of sorts to you.
Q: In a brief statement can you explain “What Dreyfoos means to me”?
It’s a place where people can explore their passions and grow.