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Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Scaling Duolingo, embracing failure, and insight into Latin America’s tech scene | Gina Gotthilf (Latitud, Duolingo)
Scaling Duolingo, embracing failure, and insight into Latin America’s tech scene | Gina Gotthilf (Latitud, Duolingo)

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Gina Gotthilf is a co-founder and the COO of Latitud, a startup platform supporting the next generation of iconic tech startups in Latin America. Previously, Gina led growth and marketing at Duolingo, which she helped grow from 3 million to 200 million users. She was recently named one of the 500 most influential people in all of Latin America by Bloomberg. In today’s episode, we discuss:
• Behind the scenes of Duolingo’s early growth
• How to balance the “A and B sides” of life
• Stories from Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign
• Lessons from Duolingo’s international expansion
• Tactical tips for driving organic growth
• How to use PR, brand love, and community as growth levers
• Why Gina is passionate about investing in Latin America

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Overcast, and YouTube.

Find the full transcript at: https://www.lennyspodcast.com/scaling-duolingo-embracing-failure-and-insight-into-latin-americas-tech-scene-gina-gotthilf-la/#transcript

Where to find Gina Gotthilf:

• X: https://twitter.com/ginag

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ginafrombrazil/

• Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gina/

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• X: https://twitter.com/lennysan

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Gina’s background

(04:34) The Vamos Latam Summit

(07:22) Gina’s “A and B sides” framework

(09:34) Her B side

(16:27) Lessons from working on Mike Bloomberg’s presidential campaign

(20:40) How Gina was able to 3x the conversion rate on a campaign site in one day

(24:34) 4 areas Duolingo leaned into to have success in the difficult world of B2C subscriptions

(36:39) B-side lessons from Duolingo

(42:05) The importance of trusting your gut

(44:54) Organic growth tactics and the importance of branding

(48:01) What makes for remarkable branding

(52:01) Duolingo’s process for keeping copy on-brand

(52:45) How Duo’s passive-aggressive messages led to a movement

(55:19) How Latitud uses niche humor as part of their branding

(56:31) Duolingo’s TikTok

(59:02) Lessons from internationalizing Duolingo

(1:03:51) Why Gina was drawn to the tech industry in Latin America

(1:09:26) What Latitud does

(1:17:20) Opportunities in emerging markets

(1:20:45) Lightning round


• The Vamos Latam Summit 2023: https://www.latitud.com/vamoslatamsummit

• Ben Horowitz on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/behorowitz/

• Rappi: https://about.rappi.com/

• Reed College: https://www.reed.edu/

• Marcus Aurelius: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius

• Mike Bloomberg’s website: https://www.mikebloomberg.com/

• How Duolingo reignited user growth: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/how-duolingo-reignited-user-growth

• Burr Settles on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/burrsettles/

• Nubank: https://nubank.com.br/en/

Navigating comms and PR | Lulu Cheng Meservey (Substack, Activision Blizzard): https://www.lennyspodcast.com/navigating-comms-and-pr-lulu-cheng-meservey-substack-activision-blizzard/

• 47 Duolingo Memes That Are Equal Parts Funny and Extremely Concerning: https://www.buzzfeed.com/kellymartinez/duolingo-memes-jokes

• Latitud: https://www.latitud.com/

• Brian Requarth on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianrequarth/

• On Deck: https://www.beondeck.com/

• Leadsales: https://leadsales.io/en/crm-for-whatsapp/

• Pomelo: https://pomelo.la/latam/

The Design of Everyday Things: https://www.amazon.com/Design-Everyday-Things-Revised-Expanded/dp/0465050654

Man’s Search for Meaning: https://www.amazon.com/Mans-Search-Meaning-Viktor-Frankl/dp/1663607982/

Succession on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/succession

The Rehearsal on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/the-rehearsal

The White Lotus: https://www.hbo.com/the-white-lotus

Bo Burnham: Inside: https://www.netflix.com/title/81289483

• “How is the best-case scenario Joe Biden?” song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltg9ohuh0KM

How to with John Wilson on HBO: https://www.hbo.com/how-to-with-john-wilson

• Viome: https://www.viome.com/

• Levels: https://www.levelshealth.com/

• Andrew Chen’s blog: https://andrewchen.com/

• The ship of Theseus: https://www.philosophy-foundation.org/enquiries/view/the-ship-of-theseus

• Gina Gotthilf on 20VC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_M7XsTicrY0

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

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Lenny's Newsletter

Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career

Interviews with world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.