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Be fundamentally different, not incrementally better | Jag Duggal (Nubank, Facebook, Google, Quantcast)


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Jag Duggal is chief product officer at Nubank, a decacorn neobank founded in Brazil. It’s valued at over $30 billion, is bigger than Coinbase, Robinhood, Affirm, and SoFi combined, has 100 million customers (more than Bank of America!) while only operating in three countries in Latin America, and 80% to 90% of its growth comes through word of mouth. Prior to Nubank, Jag was a director of product management at Facebook, a senior vice president at Quantcast, and a product leader at Google. In our conversation, we discuss:

  • How Nubank builds a fanatical user base

  • Tactics for driving word-of-mouth growth

  • Measuring customer love through the Sean Ellis score

  • The importance of strategic clarity

  • The role of category design in creating successful products

  • Why companies should strive to be “fundamentally different,” not “incrementally better”

  • Nubank’s vision for an AI-powered banking future

Some takeaways:

  1. The “Sean Ellis score” is a key element of how Nubank measures product-market fit and makes decisions about investing in new products. The score is based on asking customers, “How disappointed would you be if this product went away?” The answer options are:

    1. Very disappointed

    2. Somewhat disappointed

    3. Not disappointed

    4. I no longer use this product

  2. A few of your strongest customers can teach you more than many of your weaker ones. Your strongest customers are generally your most engaged users, deriving the most value from your product. If you use the Sean Ellis question, your strongest customers will be those with the highest scores. Try to learn: what characteristics make them a better fit for your product? What can they teach you about the value of your product?

  3. The best user research technique is often to just pick up the phone and call 10 customers. You don’t need a research plan, a research lead, someone to summarize results, etc. Those things just add distance between you and the customer and overhead that slows research down. If you have a direct line to the customer instead, you’ll often find that it only takes five conversations before you gain strong, reliable insights.

  4. Your strategy doesn’t have to be “right,” but it does have to be clear. A clear strategy allows you to identify when things are off course, because it defines “what was supposed to be happening.” Aspirations or vague statements like “to re-invent banking” are not clear strategies. Clear strategies are detailed plans centered on specific problems, solutions, customers, and strengths.

  5. Jag lives and breathes the motto “We’re in the business of being fundamentally different, not incrementally better.” In competitive markets, merely improving incrementally on existing solutions isn’t enough. Strive to be fundamentally different by reinventing or creating new categories. This approach not only sets you apart from competitors but can also redefine the industry standards.

  6. To develop products that truly resonate with users, start by identifying deeply held pain points. This can be achieved through meticulous customer research, or asking indirect questions to uncover genuine needs and frustrations. The goal is to develop a solution that addresses these issues so effectively that customers become enthusiastic advocates.

  7. Before diving into research, articulate a clear hypothesis. This gives direction to your research efforts and helps you interpret the data you gather effectively. Don’t become overly attached to your hypothesis. Be willing to assess whether it’s right or wrong based on the evidence you gather, rather than trying to defend it at all costs.

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, and YouTube.

Where to find Jag Duggal:

• LinkedIn:

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Jag’s background

(04:34) Nubank’s remarkable achievements

(06:01) Nubank’s product development process

(11:23) Nubank’s values

(12:16) Building products people love fanatically

(15:21) The Sean Ellis score

(21:27) An example project using the Sean Ellis score

(25:07) Picking up the phone and calling customers

(28:20) The importance of starting small and iterating

(30:42) Pushing back effectively

(34:10) Uncovering pain points through customer research

(37:53) An example of setting a clear hypothesis

(43:11) Developing a strategy

(52:16) “Be fundamentally different, not incrementally better”

(53:10) Category design

(57:37) Nubank’s founding story and goals for the future

(01:00:46) Advice for adding new product lines

(01:03:46) The future of fintech and banking

(01:09:23) AI corner

(01:12:34) Failure corner

(01:20:24) Key takeaways

(01:22:11) Lightning round


• Nubank:

• Coinbase:

• Robinhood:

• SoFi:

• Affirm:

• Lemonade:

• Bank of America:

• Nubank achieves a world record with more than 7 million people participating in NuBolão in one month:

• Nu México carries out first financial transaction 20 meters under the depth of the sea:

• David Vélez on LinkedIn:

• Cristina Junqueira on LinkedIn:

• Edward Wible on LinkedIn:

• Sequoia Capital:

• Churrascaria:

• Nubank’s real foundation: our culture and values:

• Working Backwards Press Release Template and Example:

• Sean Ellis test:

• How to know if you’ve got product-market fit:

• Reid Hoffman on LinkedIn:

• Ultravioleta: Nubank expands its premium card offer and adds new features on the product’s first anniversary:

• Jeff Bezos: Amazon and Blue Origin | Lex Fridman Podcast #405:

• The Innovation Method Behind Swiffer Madness:

• Kevin Systrom on LinkedIn:

• Good Strategy, Bad Strategy | Richard Rumelt:

Good Strategy/Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters:

The Crux: How Leaders Become Strategists:

• How to become a category pirate | Christopher Lochhead (author of Play Bigger, Niche Down, Category Pirates, more):

Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets:

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works:

• A framework for finding product-market fit | Todd Jackson (First Round Capital):

• Citi:

• Santander Bank:

• Fidji Sumo on LinkedIn:

• Harvard Kennedy School:

• Susan Wojcicki on LinkedIn:

• Coldplay—“Lost+” ft. Jay-Z:

• Google Buys DoubleClick for $3.1 Billion:

• Real-time bidding:

From Third World to First: The Singapore Story: 1965-2000:

The Gilded Age on HBO:

• Lomi:

• Nubank careers:

Production and marketing by For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

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