November 12, 2020

#10 - Mastering growth and taking Duolingo to 200M users: Gina Gotthilf, co-founder of Latitud

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Gina Gotthilf was the VP of Growth at Duolingo, the most downloaded education app in the world, leading the team that built its user base from 3 to 200 million. She also led Tumblr's growth in Latin America and participated in the Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign to help oversee digital ad campaigns at a historical daily spend.

In 2020, she joined Brian and Yuri as a co-founder of Latitud, to help engineer serendipity for the top doers and thinkers in the Latam startup ecosystem.

In this episode, Gina talks a bit more about what we’ve been up to, but mostly about her own journey, challenges and learnings. Stick around to find out:

  • What hyper-growing startups running seamlessly from the outside are really like in the backstage.
  • Some of the growth tactics early-stage founders can benefit from.
  • Her biggest F-ups.
  • And her takeaway from pitching Duolingo to President Obama in the White House.

Brian Requarth: Awesome. Well, Gina, welcome to the Latitud Podcast. It's great to have you!

Gina Gotthilf: Thank you Brian, it's such a pleasure. I've heard great things about you and this podcast.

Brian Requarth: Well, thank you. This is kind of fun because we're co-founders and we're building this together. Share with everybody a bit more about your experience and your perspective, and then I'll share my perspective on kind of how we met. Kind of a fun story. It involves a podcast potentially. And then I have a ton of questions about things I want to ask you.

Gina Gotthilf: Yeah, totally. So I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do next. And I knew that I wanted to start a company. I really wanted to be an entrepreneur. And I had a couple of ideas at the same time. At the same time, I was undertaking this crazy journey where I bought a car and decided to drive across America and was really in the most random places ever the whole time, because you know, with 2020 and the time to do things like that.

And I remember being in the middle of a trail in a forest somewhere, participating in a session of the OnDeck fellowship, which I was participating in in order to meet a co-founder and potentially figure out what idea I wanted to focus on.

I've been thinking about how great it was to meet people like this and meet such smart potential entrepreneurs that I could work with and discuss the future of everything as I'm kind of walking through the forest, I'm in this little session about how to make your own podcast, because I'm thinking of making my own podcast and I hear someone just chime in and be like: "Hey, I'm Brian." And you kind of introduce yourself. "I'm thinking of building a community for founders in Latin America. And I remember thinking, we know that's what I want to do. Right."

And Brian, you had actually emailed me previously being like: "Hey, you're Brazilian! I made this podcast in portuguese you should listen to."

Brian Requarth: Yeah, my perspective was like, we're part of this community, and so I read about your profile and I'm like, wow! And we'll get into a little bit more about the history of what you've done professionally and tell a bit more about your story. But I was like: "Wow, here's this person from Brazil, clearly very accomplished."

So I was just basically looking to vibe out with someone else that had been part of the success stories, and I assumed that you had some connection with Brazil, given that you're from there and you were very candid with me. You're like: "Hey, I'm driving across countries."

So, and then fast forward a few weeks, I think we'd scheduled something a couple of weeks out because you're like: " I'm consulting, I've got customers, I'm looking at starting something else. I've got driving across country."

You had your plate full at the time. I think I had told you: "Hey, I've got a podcast and here we are."

Gina Gotthilf: Exactly. It's funny that it was about a podcast, but also I remember our very first call where it became very evident to you that I hadn't actually done my due diligence for that call.

I didn't really know about VivaReal, I didn't really know about you. And once I realized what a huge gap that had been and how embarrassing that was, I was so embarrassed about that because I called my friends at Endeavor in Brazil. I was like: "You guys heard of Brian Requarth? And they're like, "duh".

And so I started researching, felt really bad. And you sent me: "Hey, look, I wrote this book. You should take out the manuscript" In a way to apologize I said: "I'm sorry". But the proof that I was really sorry, I read your book from that same day and sent you feedback.

Brian Requarth: You're one of the first people to actually read it and, and a few others gave really constructive feedback. And when I got your feedback, I'm like: "Wow, okay." You went above and beyond. And, that was kind of a very clear sign as I was also looking to start something that I'm like: "Oh, I want to work with this person, just the way you were thinking about things."

And so that's a little context for everybody. Speaking of podcasts, you are also planning on launching your own podcast, which is set to launch here shortly. And you're planning on detailing your biggest F-ups and asking interviewees to share their biggest F-ups, because that's not something you hear all the time.

So in the spirit of a prelude to what you're about to launch with your podcast, I gotta ask you, you know, what is your biggest f-up?

Gina Gotthilf: Yeah, I think that's just the question people don't really like to address very straight on, you know, so I could be like: "Oh, Brian, my biggest f-up is that actually I did, you know, this press campaign for Duolingo and it was so successful that it took the site down and that was a big mistake. You know, I really should have been a little more cautious."

That's I think the kind of answer you hear a lot and I, you know, you hear it and you roll your eyes, but I think that it really perpetuates this vision that this image that entrepreneurs or people who succeed, just have this amazing ability to be right and successful all the time.

And that's the opposite from the truth. So for people who know me personally, I feel like I stumble every day, I'm stumbling in the right direction and things are working out really well, but there's a lot of stuff I don't know. So to answer your question, I think one of the reasons why I'm excited about Latitud is that I really feel like the biggest f-up in my career is that I had some pretty sharp ideas about companies I wanted to start building when I was in my early twenties and I was too scared and I didn't do it.

I also almost joined a really early stage startup that I was very excited about. Got scared and took a job at a more established company. Of course, I'm not telling that everyone listening that's the right way to do it, to start a company or to join an early stage.

I regret that fear because I think that even today, the ideas that I had had would have been really successful. And I just didn't do it because I was afraid of losing my VISA because I was trying to stay in the United States, I worried that if I had a side thing, I don't know the IRS or someone would catch me and I didn't know exactly what the rules were.

But that said, I felt a lot just in my day to day. And my funniest one would be that, you know, I worked at Duolingo with CEO and co-founder Luis one-on-one pretty closely. And I took him to an interview once one month before the actual interview date by mistake, like it was the exact same date and exact time, the exact location, we get there, it's closed. The office is closed and I'm like getting really flustered and I'm like calling them and like: "Why aren't they there?" And I realized it was exactly one month before, and I just started working with them and it was extremely embarrassing.

Oh, also I booked the flight of mine for the day before as well. So basically just a lot of dumb mistakes that made me look really incompetent.

Brian Requarth: Every single success story has tons of screw-ups along the way. Right. And that's something that people don't talk about. And so I'm glad to hear there's a podcast that's, you know, one that makes that a little bit more like accepted because it's just the stark reality of every single success story.

And so I think that's going to be fun to go into that. The classic kind of saying is you learn a lot more in those hard times you do in your success, your high points, and I'm sure you're going to be able to explore a lot of your own kind of mistakes. And I hope to be one of your first interviewees on your podcast, because I essentially wrote a book about this, of all my screw ups is a good chunk of my book.

Gina Gotthilf: We're inviting you. I'm not sure yet.

Brian Requarth: Hopefully I make the list. So on the flip side of like some of these screw-ups or challenging moments, kind of at the polar opposite, you've done some pretty cool stuff and one of them is pitching, just low-key, president Obama.

So how did that happen, and what did you take away from that experience?

Gina Gotthilf: It was one of the most incredible days of my life. And I remember telling Luis von Ahn right afterwards: "You know, I think my career has peaked and I'm going to walk away while I'm at the top and I'm done, I'm going to retire and go do something very simple because I don't think anything can top this."

At the same time, I recognize it's funny because it's a moment that's highly recognized by everyone as like this amazing feat. So like, I use my photo with Obama everywhere because it makes me look super legit, but it was just a moment in time, you know, and it doesn't actually, to me, represent the stuff that we accomplished and Duolingo, or the stuff that I've accomplished in my career, but it's kind of a badge of honor that everyone likes Obama and he's a big deal.

But the way that happened was that the White House had their first and probably last Demo Day. And they decided to invite startups from all over the United States to showcase the amazing entrepreneurship from all corners. And Duolingo was one of the selected startups, but it was like a list of 30 or 40 startups.

And we were invited to go to the White House. I was the second spokesperson for Duolingo for five years, so I was always there to present whether our conferences or any other opportunities. So Luis von Ahn and I went to the White House and I remember him being like: "You need to know that this is, you know, this is an Obama event, but he's not going to be there, like, you know, manage your expectations."

And I was like, it doesn't matter. I'm excited to go to the White House, not as a tourist, it's going to be such an interesting experience, but I felt really nervous that day. And I actually dressed up, like, I don't know, I just, I was nervous. And I almost was like, what if Michelle and Obama are there?

But he was like, seriously, he was like: "I've been to the White House twice and he's never there." And I was like, okay, well that's fine. And so they took us into the White House and they took us to the very last, like this room all the way in the back. And I remember saying to Luis, we're being taken to the loser room, like we're totally, 'cause there was like, they spread it out all over the house.

And there were like four other startups that I hadn't heard of before in the thing there with us, in the loser room. And one of my best friends is a journalist at the New York times. She has a huge thing for American history. And she was like: "What room are you in? Like, what are the paintings?" And I'm like: "I don't know. There's some men on the paintings." She was like: "I hate you, you're useless."

So we're there. We're prepping our little booth, you know, because it was a demo day for people who work in the White House. And these people keep coming over to me and being like: "Hi, I'm sorry, but your computer is not perfectly aligned with the table and your poster is not at a perfect 45 degree angle." And I remember being like: "Why are they being so annoying? Like who cares?" You know? And Luis looked at me and was like, you deal with it and walked away.

And they were like: "We're going to have to hear your pitch." And I was super jaded being like: "We're an app and we do languages." And they were like: "We're going to need you to work on that." And I was just like: "You guys, I do this like a million times a day. I know what I'm doing." I didn't say that out loud, that's what I thought. So finally, something clicked that it was weird and someone said something like: "Does she know yet?"

And I was just like: "I'm sorry, do I know what? And they were like: "Nothing, nothing." And I was like: "You guys, on a scale from zero to 10, what are the odds that president Obama is going to show up?" And they looked at each other and they said: "10." And I remember just like my legs, like, it felt like they weren't there anymore and Luis heard this and started pacing back and forth. And he's like: "How can you just stand there?" And I was like: "I'm wearing heels. I think I'm gonna fall over." Like, I'm trying to not fall. And in my head, I was all like, Gina, be normal, be normal, be cool!

And like three minutes later Obama walks in. Luckily, we had those three minutes to be like: "Okay, Luis, you say this, I say this, like, this is how we're going to split it up."

We kind of knew our pitch pretty well, but it was fantastic. And, yeah, we got to pitch Duolingo to him and have a whole dialogue about the importance of language education and how he wished he had had Duolingo growing up. And then he shook my hand and I didn't let it go for like a second too long, 'cause I never wanted that moment to end. It was also his birthday. I really wanted to have sung happy birthday to him, but the person who did this before was this blonde woman and things didn't go super well there, so I kept quiet.

Brian Requarth: That's really a special kind of experience. Quite a surprise, I guess.

And you know, you were ready for the moment, right? You made it happen. Any kind of other observations, like give you any feedback or how did you feel like you did? 'Cause I mean it, an interesting phrase that from Oprah's interviewed like hundreds, if not thousands of like extremely successful people, including Obama.

And one thing that she's known for saying is that after the interview, doesn't matter who it is, the number one question is: "How was that?" Because people are just insecure no matter who they are. Right. In fact, president Obama literally said that to Oprah after. So how did you feel afterwards? And did you get any feedback.

Gina Gotthilf: Yeah, let me tell you about the feedback I got because it was actually pretty direct. I assume, I don't know, weeks later, this goes online, this is on YouTube. So you can actually find this interview. Please don't, and I will tell you why.

This interview is online and some people are commenting on it. And some guy decided to narrate my play by play during the interview and every second he's like: "And then she puts the blender last for no reason. And then look, she looks down, but there's nothing there. And she says that thing that is out of context." And like he's spot on every single thing. The person who found us was my intern at the time and he just sent it to me like laughing and I felt still in there. I mean, so I really liked it. I think I did a fairly okay job given I was presenting to President Obama. I got through it. I didn't die. It was done.

But you know, the feedback was pretty harsh in terms of that one guy, but he really got to me because I feel like he was narrating all of my insecurities during that time. And I know me, I like to hide behind my humor. So any opportunity I got during that interview, I was laughing because that's the best way I had to, like, not freak out completely.

So that happened, but the other cool thing that happened, we went out to dinner after that and actually ended up running into all of the photographers from the White House and befriending all the photographers in the White house who told me amazing stories, who've been there for, you know, a very long time with a lot of different presidents. And that's how I got all the photos that they took of us because they moved like a little bush, you know, like in the cartoons with the camera. So I remember standing there and the little men with the cameras, moving like this, like right in front of us. And they were like 20 cameras. So we met all of them and that was really cool.

But that was it, and it will never happen again.

Brian Requarth: Yeah, well, not with Obama and hopefully anyways, we won't talk politics. So, by the way, given the theme for your podcast, this is actually bringing up a lot of like moments for me of things that I've screwed up.

Public speaking, I'm reminding you so that when you interview me, if I make the cut, ask me about my complete blow up in public speaking. I have a good story for that, okay?

We'll save that for another day, cause it's not about me.

So Duolingo. Success story, you built a reputation as someone who really has mastered growth and been able to take, on the case of Duolingo, when you joined, there was 3 million users, and then by the time you left Duolingo had 200 million users.

This was done all organically and you've talked about strategies more in detail, one of them being PR and it's often overlooked. Share some tips and tricks for that.

Gina Gotthilf: Sure. So in terms of tips and tricks, I would think the most relevant stuff to talk about is the growth team that I led. We were a product team of engineers, designers, product managers, and we ran experiments all day long every day, all day, every day, a bunch of experiments a week to improve percentage by percentage little different aspects of the actual product.

And we looked at it really broadly from a marketing and growth perspective. So we were A/B testing all of our emails and notifications, which is kind of how to bring people into the app. We were A/B testing our absolute presence in terms of ASO, but we were also A/B testing the actual product. So focusing on onboarding, for example, like the minute someone downloads the app or checks out the Duolingo website for the first time, how do we get them to do all the things they need to do in order to become a user that loves the app and comes back and comes back again and tells their friends and goes through that whole funnel?

And so there are countless experiments that we ran. 50% of them on average failed. We don't talk about them. We only talk about the successful ones, so that really goes back to that theme. But the successful ones really made a big difference for you to have, just a perspective. And this is not from my team, this is from the early days of Duolingo because that team has always been focused on product retention and growth, but they won retention improved from 15% to 50% over the course of, I don't know, maybe probably something like one to two years just by running these experiments and optimizing.

Now the important thing about this, especially as you and I, Brian are working very much with early stage companies, is that it's very difficult to effectively run A/B tests at that scale, because you need to have statistically significant results. And in order to have statistically significant results, you need a very large number of people using your products.

So, you know for sure that if something works better than the next thing, it's not by chance, it's actually statistical like that. If you do it again and again and again, you will see that to be true, that will actually remain true. And then you can make changes and optimize.

So, yeah, I'm happy to talk anytime about any of those specific ones and the ones that worked the most. I don't know if you want to go that deep.

Brian Requarth: Yeah. I mean, if you were to highlight like the number one channel for you, what would you say was the breakout thing? If you were to kind of strip, cause you ended up doing a lot of things, you test things and you end up doubling down on things.

But if you could highlight, if you had to strip away everything and it's like just one thing, what would that have been for you and how applicable do you think that is to most startups?

Gina Gotthilf: I think that the most important thing is to focus on retention and to have one metric that you care about. So we cared about day one retention, the number of people who come back one day after they download Duolingo.

And so all the experiments around that I think were the most important. And the most notable were experiments around push notifications. Basically like how many words, what words, should there be an emoji? What time of day, like we've figured out that we should be sending modifications 23.5 hours after the person signed up, because we assumed that at that time they were available.And so the next day there's a chance that at that time they're going to be available as well. So a lot of experiments around that.

We saw a big difference in terms of usage when our push notification system broke. And that's how we know that it was so effective, but I want to highlight just the importance of looking at retention and day one retention for apps that fall into this category of daily stability..

A lot of people, when they think about growth, they think about acquisition. They think about what am I going to do on Facebook? How am I going to, how much can I acquire a user for, can I get this in front of people? And that's a really important part of the puzzle but the retention piece is whether people actually find your thing useful or not. It's kind of like the product market fit piece.

If you can't retain a user that you got, not only does it means that your thing isn't very useful to that person and in general, if you can look at that at scale, but also it's just from a pure math perspective, that's just a huge leaky bucket as they call it in the growth community, which means you're paying money or spending effort on getting people to try your product, and then you're losing them immediately.

So you might as well spend upfront effort on keeping them around for as long as possible because you know then that every dollar you invest in getting new users will go that much further because that user will stick around longer. So yeah, I think that's applicable to any startup. It's like focusing on product market fit and value, which is measured by retention, that's all it is retention. Does that person like that thing and use it again?

Brian Requarth: Yeah, I love the OMTM, you know, the one metric that matters that you mentioned. I think that focus is so important. And I think that startups need to be obsessed with focus and prioritization, because I think the number one problem for a lot of startups is they chase a lot of bright and shiny lights.

And the reality is, honing in and focusing on one thing, you can unlock a lot of value. When we were building VivaReal, we had the challenge and it's kind of the blessing in disguise, which is we were, let's just face it, we were broke ass founders with no money and no access to capital for a long time.

And so we got super smart at driving traffic organically and finding those metrics that didn't require a lot of capital. I think that you're very well known for having built a growth engine without any money really, and spending money on marketing. How important is that to have as the right DNA, kind of when you start and you're looking to grow your business?

Gina Gotthilf: You know, it's hard to speak generally, because I think that there are some startups in which this may be different, but I guess all I can do is speak from my own experience.

I think it's extremely important that you're able to acquire users without spending money on it, because once you start spending money on getting users, you become addicted to it and you can't stop because then you have this number and you're trying to improve this metric and you can't completely lose it.

And you're depending on those users in order to work on your other things. It just becomes a vicious cycle where you're just constantly trying to get more users and then you burn through like, I don't know how many potential users for your business by presenting them with something that isn't necessarily a great fit.

So by focusing on the organic piece, it's just a fancy way of saying, you're making sure that the thing you're building is useful and people want it, and that you're focusing on who wants it and how to get it to them. If you get it to the right audience and it's a good thing, then people will want it and they will use it.

I know I'm simplifying it massively, but I do believe that's super important. And so thinking about how to get those users without investing and thinking about CAC and LTV, like first thing, I would say is very important.

Of course, those metrics are extremely important in terms of unit economics for any startup, but if you have to keep going to Facebook to keep buying more users, it's going to be really tough to maintain in the long run. You're going to have to raise more money. Basically I would be scared as a founder to go down that route.

Brian Requarth: Yeah. And you build a massively competitive kind of moat if you're able to do that effectively, you can charge less for your products.

There's all these benefits.

Gina Gotthilf: Yeah, absolutely. And by the time you start running ads, then you have a lot more information about who your audience actually is and what they like and what works and what doesn't work.

You're not just blindly A/B testing ads and throwing money at it kind of like we did with the Mike Bloomberg campaign, but that's another story.

Brian Requarth: Yeah. A lot of times, from what I've seen as an angel investor and an advisor, a lot of companies, there's a bit of a facade, kind of like what we talked about in the beginning where it's like, everything's great. And like, it's the classic question, and you ask a founder, how are things going?

And it's like: "Oh, it's amazing." And it's just like, there's no way that every single founder has things going amazing because the reality is startups are filled with turmoil, right? I mean, it's kind of one of those things where people put on the Instagram kind of lens, where it's like, things are going great.

There's always challenges. A marriage has its challenges. You know, when you look at it from the outside, there's always challenges that are going on. You're navigating it. Life is hard. So what was that like at Duolingo? Did it always feel like things were moving quickly and up into the right?

Tell us more about that. Because from the outside, Duolingo is an amazing story. I mean, it's a company that you helped build should be proud of what you guys did, but people don't always know what it's really like.

Gina Gotthilf: Yeah, no, definitely not. I think, I mean, we're super lucky and we're one of the big success stories. So yes, I think more so than, than, than other cases, but on a day to day, it did not feel like that. It felt like a lot of work.

Often we didn't really know the direction we were going in made sense. We were trying things, a lot of things didn't work. Like I said, over 50% of our A/B tests failed. Meaning they didn't produce any results, and that was a lot of work going out, so people get really demotivated.

I think that the hardest thing, if I were to name just one, but there was terms of people leaving, we had a really great retention overall, but, you know, there's one person who leaves, who says this thing. And then now the press got caught up with it. Or we posted something on social media and that offended people. Once I tried to post something about inclusion and there was a person in my office who came to talk to me about how it was so tone deaf. And we had to delete it.

There was a day when we tried to do a global lunch and actually a newspaper broke the story, meaning they made the whole global launch, like invalid after having emailed 200 journalists all over the world. So every day was another thing. But I think that the stuff that I actually put a lot of effort into trying to navigate very carefully so that the outside perspective was positive, even though it felt very scary and could have been seen as hugely negative was that we actually changed our business model completely.

We pivoted entirely. So a lot of the Duolingo story is based on the whole concept that Luis von Ahn invented CAPTCHA and ReCAPTCHA. And so the story sort of killing two birds with one stone approach of, you know, translating the web while proving that you're not a bot and having people type things that the computer can't recognize, with Duolingo it was the same thing.

It was learning language, translate the web. And so people were translating things while they were learning and it was a brilliant and really great idea and it kind of worked. And then we started selling translations. That was our first business model. We sold translations to Buzzfeed and CNN, they were the first two clients translating all of their content to Spanish first and then into Portuguese with people who are learning languages on Duolingo and editing each other, kind of like on Wikipedia.

Having to realize that that wasn't going to work long term for a number of reasons first, because just like the unit economics of the translation business is a mess. You're hanging over cents basically per word, with other companies that are competing against you. And language is complicated because you translate something one way and someone says that's not the right word. It's this word. We were going to do all of these back and forth.

And then most importantly, we realized at Duolingo that if we went down this route, then we would be making money from translations. We wouldn't be making money from education. And our investors would quickly say: "Why are you guys spending so much effort on the education piece? Your money is coming from translations. You focus on translation."

So it didn't work to have a model that really didn't align with our whole mission of bringing free languages education to the world. And since we still had runway, we could pivot, but from a public perspective, that was a disaster because it would basically just say: "Our thing isn't working, everything we've been saying was a lie". That would be the perception.

But yeah, I think we were able to navigate it with a lot of care in a way that made it very seamless. But if you really knew from the inside, like the day-to-day struggle of stressing out about the change and not having a business model that actually worked, we had to go from that to let's go explore new things.

Let's go from that to this, that we already know works. It was just like a year of: We don't have a business model. We don't charge for our products. We don't don't have any ads. We've made a whole point about not charging and not having any ads, what are we gonna do now?

Brian Requarth: At what point did that happen in your journey?

Because pivots happen, ideally you're pivoting early so that you're not deploying so much capital behind an idea that isn't validated, but when you joined, it was like 20 people in the company or something. It was very early, and now it's a very large company that, you know, probably will go public at some point.

And tell us more about what stage you're at when that happens. And was it harder navigating the team's kind of motivation or was it harder to navigate the investors or both, or your own internal kind of battle?

Talk a little bit more about what were the challenges there.

Gina Gotthilf: Yeah. And I wouldn't need to look exactly, but I would estimate that we were around year two, that we had already raised a Series A, maybe Series B, somewhere around there.

So you know, not as early as you would have thought, I think that we got away with it because we were able to grow in terms of users so quickly. And we were building a product that definitely had value for people and we're still retaining it. And because Luis von Ahn has all this reputation, the investors really trusted him.

So that's where we were. We already had both feet in CNN as clients. So, you know, that took a while to negotiate and, and everything. In terms of our fears of backlash, there were a lot of cases where we really feared internal motivation. This was not one of them.

I think our biggest fear was the external perception of the brand, the company and what we were doing. So that's what we were really careful to navigate. But internally, yeah, honestly like even just the decision to have management, to actually have teams at Duolingo instead of a completely flat organization or the decision to consider ads or to consider ways of making money or having things that users would pay for caused many people at Duolingo threatened to quit, because we were kind of very early on, it felt like a communist little society where everyone was like: "We're all fair. We're all equal. Everyone's the same." When we don't charge, we don't believe in management. We believe money is evil. We're only doing things for the good of the people.

And then having to be like, cool, we love this mission and the fashion, but also we're a business and we need to pay everybody without saying that because,so that kind of thing really was tough to navigate internally as well. Aligning people with a mission of doing good, and doing that while also having a business that functions that has a structure that makes money is okay.

Brian Requarth: And that's something that usually the best companies start out with this ambitious mission. As a business, you have to make it sustainable. Otherwise you can have an ambitious mission, but if it's not designed to kind of be sustainable, it's going to be hard to be around forever. And then you won't be able to execute on your mission because you'll run out of money.

You mentioned something interesting, I want to double click on. It sounded like there was a little bit of a very flat hierarchy in the business. At what point did you guys start building an executive team, you know, I know that outside of growth, you were also on the executive team.

Where was the moment where there started needing to be kind of like managers inside the company and how did that all kind of take place?

Gina Gotthilf: It was step-by-step, it was tough. It was like a bandaid that we ripped off, I think around year two also was when we started having managers, but we didn't call them managers, we just called them team leads.

For example, I was a team lead because that was a way of not saying management. And it really took a long time for people to accept that there was more of a structure. I think things really, really changed around maybe year three. I think that's probably when we started having an executive team and in my opinion, things really changed when we hired someone called Natalie Glance from Google.

She was, I believe, a director of engineering there, incredible woman. She's still at Duolingo today as Head of Engineering. She really brought a lot of the Google structure to us and the importance of keeping the OKRs, yearly planning and being serious about documentation and structure.

This team org establishing a cross-functional organization and all of that. And then I feel like it's a week by week process. It wasn't like one day we decided to do that type thing.

Brian Requarth: And as those kinds of advanced in the company. And by the way, I'm thinking of all kinds of things that I can share in your podcasts and things that I screwed up as asked these questions.

You've planted a seed in my mind now of going full vulnerability on all of my screw ups. It's amazing how, like, when you're talking how easy that comes up when you're thinking about your own story, because usually you kind of ask questions and then you also reflect on your experience, right? When you ask those questions.

So of those kind of key elements of transitioning more to a professional company, you mentioned OKRs, what do you think were the most mission critical elements of becoming more of an organization versus this startup going after this lofty idea?

Gina Gotthilf: To me, I found the Natalie moment was a big one in terms of implementing OKR as a cross functional organization. And all of that.

Let me say that, I don't know, I never really had a real heart to heart with Natalie about this. And I hope that maybe with my podcast we'll be able to do it, but I feel like her entrance in the company with one of the hardest, it must've been so hard for her because she was not welcomed with open arms because it was a team that didn't want to have all of the structure and didn't want to feel corporate. And didn't want to have kind of like someone who felt like someone was telling everyone else what to do. But I think that her entrance really transformed Duolingo from a child company to a young adult type of company.

So, OKRs, huge and really sticking to them. 'Cause I've worked with organizations where it's like: "Oh yeah, let's do OKRs." And then the founder's like: "Oh, but can you sneak this one thing in and the next week it's like, can we fire size this other thing?" We already established the OKR. There's a reason why the process is like this and the answer's no.

But then, you know, it's tough. If the founder doesn't buy in completely and the management team doesn't buy in completely, because then it's just really easy for it to kind of fizzle. And also really being very careful about how you actually write down the OKR is a lot tougher than I think people think, in terms of creating key results that are actually measurable and objective that are just right and really thinking about how you word things and the metrics that you're going after makes a huge difference in the long term. That's one.

The second thing is implementing a sort of hiring plan and being very careful about how we hired. At Duolingo, I think even very early on, it was pretty tough to actually get hired. The bar was very high, but the bar got higher and higher and the process got a lot more serious and people complained about it a lot because no one likes process, but I really think that it made it so that we could only hire people who were excellent. Never people who are good enough for that job, because we really needed someone right now.

So I think that made a really big difference in the long term. And then a third thing that I like to talk about, and I think is super important is that we established three pillars early on, I would say maybe around fourth year, where we realized that we had competing goals in a team. And we had people leading teams that were going for goals that competed against each other. For example, number one goal, you know, from a mission standpoint is to get people to learn. So our learning metrics were the most important thing. Establishing that metric was super important, but we couldn't really teach people if we couldn't get people to use Duolingo, so growth and getting a lot of users was super important and that's like a whole other goal.

And then of course, none of this could be sustained unless we made money. So monetization became the third pillar, three things that are important. These things work against each other in ways that you wouldn't predict. For example, if I want to get a lot of users to stick around, I will make really fun and easy lessons that are kind of like, you know, we'll have like animations and you always get it right. And there's always something going on that you're amazing. You collect all these points. That's great. I could actually measure that this would impact retention positively. But this from the learning standpoint is not good because you're trying to get people to challenge themselves so that they can actually grow and learn.

Alternatively, you could just give people really tough things to get them to learn more quickly, but then they'll give up and then they won't stick around, so they're not learning anyway. And things you do in order to improve either of those metrics could be charged for at any point. So like, you know, our team came up with the streak freeze and the streak amulet, which was basically ways for you to protect your streak from going lost if you forgot to do Duolingo on the weekend, which is kind of a little bit of a cheat, but it was just like a way to get people to keep going on one day.

Once we realized that actually worked, our learning team was like: "You're cheating. We want people to actually do this every day." And I would say: "No, because if they don't do it on the weekend and they call off on Monday, you just lost your learner." And then what's the point? The monetization team would be like: "Wait, wait, wait, You're doing this and we're not charging for that? We have to sell that amulet. People want it." And it's like: "No, because if you sell it, people aren't going to buy it. And then they're going to stop using Duolingo." And like, it was just this thing.

There were examples like that where it felt like we had to go into a judge room or something, the courtroom with the rest of the executive team. Sometimes it was just the co-founders and make our case and actually argue against each other and come to a conclusion together about what was best and how to measure X percent plus in growth minus X percent in monetization. What does that amount to the long run? Because if we didn't have that, I think we could have really gone in one of the directions and, and derailed metrics long-term that really mattered.

Brian Requarth: So it sounds like best ideas win. You've got a debate and you've got to make your case and everybody, you have the north star for the company. This tension that's created, do you think this tension is good in startups where there's like a kind of a push and pull and how do you strike the right balance?

Gina Gotthilf: Yeah, that's hard because it could get heated sometime. I think that it's important to have the push and pull because I mean, people really care and they really care about their metric and their team is super focused on that one thing. So it's important for people to be able to feel passionate about what they're doing and if they're fighting for something, then it means they're passionate about it.

In this case, it wasn't best ideas win. You know, the three pillars could have the best ideas, but then if one was hurting the other, it was very complicated. And I feel like that might be the case more often than we understand. So for example, we always want it to stick to the mission. So whatever was best for the user and best for learning is what we all actually really wanted to do deep inside, because that's why we were there. But we needed people. We needed someone like me to be like "growth" and the other person to be "money" because otherwise we would just become like a nonprofit or something. And then we couldn't actually hire the best talent. And then we can actually keep the servers going and then people couldn't learn at all. The end, and it's not the best thing for the users.

I think it's important to give people a room to waste their opinions in a way that it's structured and productive instead of them feeling like it doesn't really matter and the executive team will make a decision one way or the other.

But yeah, it's a balance and that's the hard thing. Just encourage communication, I would say.

Brian Requarth: Yeah. And I think that that communication becomes even more challenging as the company grows. Did you sense any kind of growing pains? I mean, you get to a point where you don't know everyone's name, those things ultimately result in challenges.

You mentioned that when Natalie came all of a sudden that there was a little more process and people didn't want managers and things like that, which is super common. And in fact, Google is famous for not having managers at one point, and then actually doing an analysis, like a mathematical analysis that resulted in showing evidence that actually managers are really important and people want them.

So that's great that you brought someone from Google because Natalie could probably articulate the lessons and learnings from Google, and then people are more receptive to it, particularly engineering types that like to have very evidence driven decision-making.

So talk a little bit more about the context of that and how you were able to scale as you go from 20 to 50 and as some of the companies that are listening, maybe at that moment right now, what advice do you have for them?

Gina Gotthilf: Yeah, from 20 to 50, I think that's one of the hardest growing pains. Maybe from 40 on or something like that, it starts feeling like a different company.

The biggest advice I would give there is there's an article that I read at the time that I really liked, it's called something like "How to give away your Legos". And I think, I don't know, it might be on First Round now, but it was somewhere else.

How you give away your Legos is important because you're used to kind of wearing all the hats early on at a startup, and you like to complain about how it's so tough that you wear all the hats and you do all the things, right. But then as soon as you have someone who's doing one of the things that you were doing before, it feels weird and you don't want to give it up and you don't think they're doing a good job. And for a lot of employees, especially, it feels like you're losing your power.

It feels like you're being sidelined, because like, let's say I own social media. Now I have someone who took over social media. It's like, why? I've been doing it, I've been doing a good job. Like, why not? But you should be focusing on this other thing now because that's kind of the whole point, right?

You start very small. Everyone does everything. And then you hire specialists who can take over and do maybe hopefully a better job than you could at all the things. They can do a better job at that one thing. And you need to be able to learn to give away your Legos so that you can grow in your organization as an employee, get a higher management position even, but also for the organization to scale.

It's the only way. To me that's the best advice.

Brian Requarth: I liked the Lego analogy.

So kind of transitioning a little bit, what an experience at Duolingo and the opportunity to be on a rocket ship, expanding globally. Before Duolingo, if we kind of take a step back, you let growth for Tumblr in Brazil and LatAm, and growth was not this growth thing that it is now.

It really wasn't something that people talked about in the same context. You had no team or structure and also no budget.

So kind of going back to what we discussed earlier, how did that work out for you and what worked and what did you attribute the success to?

Gina Gotthilf: Yeah, I like to joke that they hired me because they had no other choice because they were like: "We don't know anyone else, you do this. We don't know what this is, but just make us grow, please. No budget. Also, we're not going to tell you anything, good luck!"

And it's funny because we ended up getting all this press, like: "Tumblr opens an office in Brazil!" And it's like, my bedroom in my parents' home was the Tumblr office, that and Santo Grão, which is a cafe I really love in São Paulo.

So yeah, growth wasn't really a thing. I didn't have the chance to use money to do Facebook or whatever kind of ads, which is also, I'm very biased towards organic. So I had to think about how to get somewhere in front of Brazilians, the right Brazilians and how to make it super useful to Brazilians, which goes back to the retention thing, which I didn't really understand at the time.

There's a couple of things that we looked at from a product perspective. Even though, again, I didn't know, I was looking at anything from a quote-unquote product perspective, and I ended up doing PR I didn't know it was PR. I just thought it was emailing journalists. So really, I feel like I was young and kind of trying a lot of different things.

One thing that I noticed alongside the Tumblr team in the US, was that people in Brazil, which is where I started the Tumblr launch in Latin America, were discovering Tumblrsby sharing links with each other on Facebook chat. So they were like: "Check out this cool page!" And send it to their friend, but they wouldn't even say it's on Tumblr. They wouldn't know what's at Tumblr. They would just go to that page, check it out, laugh and close it.

Not great for a brand that wants to get recognized, grow, and also eventually I, I thought that what they would do would be to put ads in there or something like that. So having people be on the, on the platform for a long time would be really important from a monetization standpoint.

And so the first question was like: "Okay, how do we get people to actually understand that they can log in?" And create FOMO so that they want to keep scrolling and realize that if they don't come back tomorrow, they're going to lose important content. So then it became a content strategy, well, what content would they feel like they're losing?

Well, first of all, there's news. So if we can get news in a really fun way, and people feel like Veja or Folha, or whoever, publishes something really important and I'm missing out on it, then they might want to go on. And then also some of the other pillar areas of Tumblr like art and humor, and kind of trying to understand how to beef up those from a Brazilian standpoint at first, and then eventually like Chilean and Argentinian as well.

So going in actually selling all of these organizations on creating a Tumblr and the way I did that was by using my digital media marketing experience that I had before, where I knew after having worked with LVMH, that I wanted to create a social media account for a big brand. They feel the need to populate it because they don't want a dead page online that someone can find and see that they're not doing a great job.

So I knew that if I created a Tumblr for one of these, there would be a high likelihood that they would actually like go and feel the need to populate it. Instead of just being like: "Cool idea, I'll add it to our list of ideas, and maybe we'll get to that in a year. "

So I'd be like: "Hey guys, I think you guys should do a Tumblr. Here's why. I have all of this stuff in English to make it look even more legit. And here's what this one newspaper, this one art gallery or whoever in the US is doing Tumblr and this is how it's working and I will actually start it out for you and I'll write the strategy out for you." So I would go and create the account, actually start it out, actually tell them what to do and then leave it.

And I think that that really helped get things going super quickly. So we really beefed up the content side. We developed the community side, so I ran their biggest meetup with 1,300 people in Curitiba. A lot of people were crying about how they were happy that they found someone that really understood them on Tumblr, which was my first view into the importance of an online community and what kind of things that unlocked beyond the whole like: "Oh, the internet actually tears people apart."

Then PR became a huge thing, which was just thinking like: "Okay, what journalists would be interested in Tumblr, what angle about Tumblr? So in Latin America was easier at the time because I just thought, well, you know, there's these American founders and they're in New York and we have these big brand names in the US so I think that I can interest Latin American journalists with the possibility of interviewing these people.

That was my first sort of like hook, but then figuring out what are the stories and what are the angles and who are the users and what is the content that most interests the press and finding them on Twitter and on LinkedIn and being like: "Hey, like, you know, there's this thing, do you think you want to cover it?"

That really worked out super well and creating other opportunities for press. For example, in Chile we went to the Casa de La Moneda, which is like the White House of Chile, and we had a meeting with their head of communications about how to use Tumblr to better communicate with young people in the country.

In Brazil, we had meetings with, I don't know, again, like the top art galleries and some important artists, we would come up with a content strategy that would then allow us to contact the press and say like: "This is a really beefy, interesting story."

For example, the Chilean government is actually really concerned about communicating with the younger population by using technology. That's an interesting story. And then you can leverage, you know, Tumblr in there. So it ended up also becoming an item on the playbook that I used for Duolingo when I went and worked on government partnerships in Mexico, Colombia and New York, in order to then get the press story that would give us legitimacy and a lot more users.

Brian Requarth: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. You have a big megaphone there, and it's not about talking about yourself. You've got to have the right story and you've got to be able to create something of interest for people. And you've got to make it easy for the journalists as well.

Gina Gotthilf: That's exactly right.

Journalists don't want to write about your product or about your company, they want to write about something that's important to society or about people. And so if you can find a way in which your product or your company actually helps or does something significant for that trend in society or for those people, that's your story.

Brian Requarth: Yeah, just as a side note, this is probably not going to go into the podcast, but I thought of another thing that I screwed up with journalists.

Gina Gotthilf: I feel like we need to keep notes during this podcast so I can properly interview you.

Brian Requarth: This is serving as a good outline for the things that I can share on my screw-ups.

Gina Gotthilf: I can share a funny one real quick, one funny f-up, and this is not mine, so it's kind of funny that I'm sharing it, but I'm sure he won't mind.

Luis actually when talking to the press in Brazil said something, like he made a joke, you know, for people who know me, like I make a lot of jokes and some of them don't land super well, but they are meant as jokes.

Luis did something like that. And we were speaking to the Brazilian journalists and he made a joke like: "Ashton Kutcher is so incredibly smart. You wouldn't expect it because of That 70s Show".

But the way that the journalist wrote it down was like: "Luis von Ahn believes that it's surprising that Ashton Kutcher is intelligent because he doesn't appear to be" or something like that. And Ashton Kutcher is one of our investors and I'm just saying to the journalist: "You have to delete this." He was like: "No, it was said, I'm printing it." And I'm like: "You are just being a jerk right now. You need to delete this. You're taking out a company for no reason." So we had like this whole argument back and forth about like in fear that like Ashton Kutcher might see this little story in Brazil and think that Luis said something negative about him.

If Ashton Kutcher ever does listen to this podcast, Ashton, you are incredible. You are so smart. You are so successful and beautiful. Thank you. Bye.

Brian Requarth: And my quick story on the press thing is that I had gotten my first press ever. In fact he is, part of the Latitud Community, Alan Colmenares from Zwapp.

He actually was a guest writer on VentureBeat that would syndicate to the New York Times business section. And so he wrote an article about what I was building and it was like an amazing article. It got us all kinds of press. And I had been pitching Sarah Lacey, who at the time wrote for TechCrunch and she was a pretty well know author.

And I actually pitched Sarah Lacey by saying: "Look, you should write about me because the New York Times wrote about me." So it was like the biggest insult to her because she's like: "I'm a journalist. I get scoops on stories. I'm not your press monkey, you know?" And that was like my moment of embarrassment trying to get her to cover what we were building.

Just a complete lack of understanding how it works. Right? So, and that's part of what we're building with Latitud, right? We want to bring and democratize access to best practices and help people empower people through a community.

Gina Gotthilf: It's so easy to mess up. It's so easy.

Brian Requarth: And the easiest way to teach is to make the mistakes and then share your lessons, which I think is why the podcast that you're doing is so important and so necessary.

Gina Gotthilf: Also, that's your entire book. So please buy Brian's book. Thank you.

Brian Requarth: Thank you. So, more recently, let's kind of fast forward here. You worked as a growth lead on the Mike Bloomberg presidential campaign's digital team. Share a few lessons about that experience.

Gina Gotthilf: Yeah, sure. So I think the number one thing is probably we spend a lot.

We spent like a very huge budget, you can Google about it later. Every day at that campaign, because we could, and a lot of the team, I would say the entire team that I was working with was very focused on how are we going to create these ads? What's the creative, what's the copy, etc. etc.? Like what are we doing with these ads?

And to me, it was just a very clear blind spot to not focus on the second part of that equation, which is when someone clicks on the ad, what happens then? How do you actually capture that person in a way that's meaningful? And so just hoping that your ads are amazing and target the right people and then sending them to a crappy landing page is just a big mistake.

If that landing page has a low conversion rate, then every dollar spent is worth a lot less. And so I spent a lot of my time, we worked very long hours. There were no weekends, there were no holidays, so it was a long time. But I probably spent three days that felt like an eternity trying to convince the team to pay attention to this and they wouldn't, so I finally decided that I was going to do it myself.

The designers wouldn't want to do it. The copywriters just couldn't prioritize it. So I was like, fine then I figured out how to use Unbounce and how to like, build a very simple landing pages, trying different designs and different cop, figured out how to be able to get some of the traffic that they were testing with the ads and then was able to show that this one landing page went from 2% to 14% conversion rate in the matter of two days because that's the amount of budget that we were using. This doesn't normally happen. It takes weeks and weeks for you to be able to improve by one percentage point because you need statistical significance.

But because we were spending so much money and driving so much traffic, we could actually see those improvements in real time. And then I was able to get the resources I needed to get the design people to help me out on this. And the copywriters helped me out on this. But I think what I'm trying to say is if you're going to work on any sort of campaign, really think about both sides, like how do you get people somewhere? And then what happens when they're there?

So, a very simple example is if you have a little store, and you have this amazing campaign to get people to check out your store, when they walk in, if it doesn't appeal to them, they walk out and like your whole effort was for nothing. You need to make the store show exactly the hat that they wanted immediately so they'll go and buy it.

And then in this case, we were just trying to capture emails. Second, it's something that I knew but was very visible in this campaign, which is you need to scale your team slowly. I believe in being very careful with hiring and I see a lot of startups being like: "We got this cash, we're going to go and hire everyone that we need!"

You can't, because people are not puzzle pieces, they're not chess pieces. People need to jive with each other and they need to be able to complement each other's abilities and fit into the team in a way that is cohesive and the teams need to work with each other in a way that makes sense. And that's really hard to build.

So we had the most amazing people working on email marketing. And then we had the most amazing people working on capturing email leads, but those teams didn't talk to each other. And so from a very tactical standpoint, that means that I'm attracting people who are interested in, let's say, banning gun violence or ending gun violence. And I'm like using petitions and imagery that go against that. And people go in to give us their email. If I give it to the email team, they need to then serve them with content that's about gun violence and not about saving forests and, you know, the importance of, I don't know, whatever, like paying attention to global warming because then there's a disconnect. So hiring very slowly is the second thing that I would say there.

And then the third is the toughest one, which is like, you can have the most amazing marketing team and you can build stories and imagery and whatever, but at the end of the day, if the product isn't right, if the product isn't what people want, there's nothing the marketing can do.

I think, you know, I don't mean to get political. I love Mike Bloomberg and I have a huge respect for him. I honestly think he would have been a tremendous president. However, the fact that he couldn't hold his own in that one debate made it so that it didn't matter anything we had done, how many millions of dollars, how many optimizations we had done.

That was just the pure product in front of the people. And that was when we lost it all

Brian Requarth: The product speaks for itself and you've got to deliver the good otherwise it's just not going to work out.

I mean, what an interesting experience though, like you get to be thrown into this crazy campaign, unlimited resources. It's a very quick way to learn very fast.

But I think that a lot of founders forget about the whole kind of product cycle and too much concentration on acquisition, but if you don't focus on acquisition, the funnel is another portion. And I think on the hiring kind of comments, that's definitely a challenging thing.

And when you've got success and you've got growth, a lot of time, that masks problems, right? Because if everything looks like it's going well, like the numbers are there, eventually things catch up to you. And so if you're not being really careful on the hiring portion, a lot of conflicts and challenging internal situations in companies are often culture. Bad culture is masked a lot by growth.

If you're growing really well, the culture thing isn't as evident, but when things are really challenging and they aren't going how you want them to, then those things become more evident. So I think that's a good reminder for all the founders to be thoughtful.

Gina Gotthilf: Yeah. I agree a hundred percent. And firstly, in terms of growth, I think it's funny that one of the growth metrics that people like to boast in terms of startups is how many people are working in their company or how many people they're managing.

People are like: "Oh, I have a team of 50." I know it sounds impressive, but it's actually not a metric that matters at all, and it actually could be working to your detriment.

Brian Requarth: It could have an inverse impact on your success. I remember feeling proud about that at some point and then quickly realizing it was definitely be the wrong metric to look at and so much so that as I start my next thing, I'm literally clear that I don't want to have a lot of people.

I don't want to have a huge team. I want to scale the impact through software and other things, and we need to have a team that's capable, but I'd rather have really high quality people than 500 people that are not making a huge impact.

And so it's not about having warm bodies. It's about having those people that can generate a massive impact in your business.

Gina Gotthilf: Totally. I think Instagram had like seven or eight employees when they sold to Facebook, as an example.

Brian Requarth: Yeah, WhatsApp as well. WhatsApp had a very small team. So as we close out this interview, it's been a fun chat. I hope you'll really consider me to join you on your podcast. I'm willing and able to share all my embarrassing moments over the years that I've learned from.

But I guess I gotta ask you, after living in the US and working in these global facing companies for 15 years, why did you decide to join Yuri and I to build Latitud?

It's not too late also, but we hope that you'll continue on. We like working with you.

Gina Gotthilf: Brian, I know some incredible entrepreneurs who work at global companies who are Latin-American and they have chosen to leave their country to go to the United States and build their company there. So for example, Mike Krieger from Instagram or Louis von Ahn from Duolingo.

I want it to be the case that the best entrepreneurs and the best minds of Latin America will stay there and build companies there. I think that we are at a tipping point where this can actually happen. We have amazing talent. We have excellent ideas. We have problems in Latin America that Silicon Valley founders could not begin to understand, that are super scalable problems because they are experienced by a lot of emerging countries and developing countries all over the world.

There is capital in Latin America now. I think that with the pandemic in particular, investors in the US are starting to look outside the Valley and maybe even outside the borders of the United States to make investments. So I think there's a lot of conditions that make it so the time is ripe for some very impactful companies to be developed in Latin America.

And I believe there are simple things we can do to help create a conditionary ecosystem that's a little bit more similar to that in Silicon Valley. First, a real community. I think there's no real community founders in Brazil or in Latin America. There's still a little bit of a competition approach.

Not that there isn't competition in Silicon Valley, but you meet each other and everyone shares resources and knowledge and there's tremendous value in the little day-to-day learnings that come from someone telling you what the best growth channel for them was. What VC they spoke to or what designer they hired.

And Latin American countries face a lot of similar problems that they're trying to solve, but they're not talking to each other. And I think there's amazing talent to be found across borders and knowledge to be shared. As a region, we're huge. I think we're powerful and we can solve big, big problems that can then go onto more of a global stage.

So per your question, I think, a lot of Latin American startups are not becoming global only because they're not striving to be global. They're just striving to be the best X in Brazil or the best Y in Mexico. And not thinking from the start like: "How do I think about this from a completely global standpoint?"

I'm hoping that with my experience in globalization, with Tumblr, Duolingo and other companies, I can help with that. And you, with your amazing experience in creating an extremely valuable company that is well-known across the region and making you one of the most well-known entrepreneurs in Latin America, and Yuri with his deeply technical knowledge and ability to make things happen expertly. I think the three of us have the potential to really just help nudge amazing founders to be much more successful by not allowing moments of failure that are easily preventable, just like: "Oh, I wasn't able to raise money or I wasn't sure how to validate my idea."

Brian Requarth: Gina, last thing I'll say as we end here, fechando com chave de ouro as they say in Brazil, I would say that a big word for me over the years has been serendipity.

And it's been kind of serendipitous to meet you. We started kind of working on some ideas together, hadn't met in person, and then coincidentally, you were kind of 45 minutes away having driven from New York landing 45 minutes from where I was living. We met in this digital world in this crazy pandemic where no one was actually going out and meeting people.

I'm grateful for that. And I'm really enjoying the first steps on our journey here. And I think that the key word here is serendipity, but I think you can actually engineer or manufacture serendipity by putting amazing people together and sharing resources, as you said.

So I'm very bullish on what the opportunity is and what lies in front of us. And I think that the team that we're assembling and the founders that we've met is really the start of something exciting. I'm really enjoying being on the journey with you so far.

Gina Gotthilf: Same. And I'm grateful for the opportunity to give back.

I think that by helping the entrepreneurship ecosystem across the region, that can be one of the most powerful ways to impact the economy of these countries and to generate jobs in the long term. So I'm really hopeful for what we can do together.

Brian Requarth: Well, thank you. And I look forward to maybe being on your podcast.

Gina Gotthilf: Okay. Thank you Brian for the opportunity, I will make sure that all my assistants consider you.

Gabriela Levy

Head of Marketing at Latitud

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