Tickets Podcast: Duolingo’s Laura Nestler on growing global communities

Howard Gray
Dec 17, 2018 · 2 min read
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It’s that app with the owl.

That app where you can instantly start learning anything from Spanish to Swahili, Hebrew to Hawaiian.

But what’s behind the enormous success of Duolingo, the language learning app that now has over 300 million users around the world?

Laura Nestler is Duolingo’s global head of community, bringing together learners and teachers from a multitude of countries and cultures.

On this episode of Tickets we get into the art & science of building global communities, the unexpected secrets behind preserving a Duolingo streak, and compare notes on London’s best cocktail bars and fried chicken shops…

“It feels like we’re getting more and more alone in how we’re learning. So my team’s entire job is to reverse that and to say, what are we doing to make language learning more social? How are we connecting people to one another?”

05:00: Duolingo’s beginnings: from a Captcha, and a ReCaptcha

15:00: How much does an owl need to cry for you to come back to Duolingo?(!)

20:00: How to grow a community internationally (plus Londoners’ lack of eagerness, and Mexican food spots)

29:00: The growth of Duolingo’s in-person events

40:00: Getting a new community off the ground: from 1, to 9, then 90

“Everything is AB tested to a painful point. We’ve even AB tested the tears of Duo [Duolingo mascot]. If you miss a day, how many tears does it take to bring you back?… Is it a puddle?!”

“You have to be willing to put in the effort on getting each individual motivator into place. Don’t waste your time going after the ninety; just try to find the one, and that will build the core that will then expand up to the masses.”

Interview with Doug Atkin (Airbnb Global Head of Community):

Tribes by Seth Godin

Originally published at on December 17, 2018.

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