"The Importance of Distribution in Startup Success: Lessons from Duolingo and AHIP"

Ben H.

Hatched by Ben H.

Jul 01, 2023

3 min read


"The Importance of Distribution in Startup Success: Lessons from Duolingo and AHIP"


In the world of startups, the obsession with product is often overshadowed by the need for effective distribution. Justin Kan, the co-founder of Twitch, once said that first-time founders focus on product, while second-time founders prioritize distribution. While product quality is crucial, nailing distribution is fundamental for a startup's success. In this article, we will explore the growth strategies of language learning app Duolingo and the resignation of AHIP CEO Matt Eyles to understand the significance of distribution in different contexts.

Duolingo's Journey on TikTok:

When Duolingo first launched its TikTok account, it made the common mistake of not adapting its content to suit the platform's expectations. Instead of focusing on entertaining and engaging its audience, Duolingo primarily shared product-driven content centered around language learning. However, they soon realized that people wanted to be entertained rather than sold to. This realization prompted a shift in their content strategy, enabling them to establish a deeper connection with their audience. By understanding the platform's dynamics and altering their approach, Duolingo managed to amass a staggering 6.6 million followers on TikTok.

AHIP CEO's Resignation:

The resignation of AHIP CEO Matt Eyles raises questions about the direction the insurance lobbying group wants to take. Eyles stepped down amidst record-high enrollments in Medicare Advantage and Medicaid managed care. Additionally, lawmakers and regulators have been scrutinizing health insurance companies' prior authorization policies and profits from government-sponsored programs. This situation begs the question of what factors drove Eyles to resign and what vision AHIP has for the future.

Connecting the Dots:

While the contexts of Duolingo's TikTok growth and Eyles' resignation may seem unrelated at first glance, there is a common thread that ties them together – the need to adapt and meet the expectations of their respective audiences. Duolingo recognized that their audience on TikTok desired entertainment rather than purely educational content, prompting a shift in their approach. Similarly, AHIP's resignation may be indicative of a need for change and adaptation in the insurance industry to address the concerns raised by lawmakers and regulators.

Lessons Learned and Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Understand your audience: Whether it's on social media platforms or in the business world, understanding your audience is crucial. Take the time to research and analyze their preferences, expectations, and pain points. By tailoring your approach to meet their needs, you can establish a deeper connection and foster growth.
  • 2. Embrace adaptability: The ability to adapt to changing circumstances is essential for long-term success. Don't be afraid to pivot your strategies, product offerings, or even leadership if it aligns with the evolving needs of your industry and target audience. Embrace change and view it as an opportunity for growth.
  • 3. Prioritize distribution alongside product development: While a stellar product is undoubtedly important, distribution is equally crucial. Develop a comprehensive distribution strategy that encompasses various channels, platforms, and marketing techniques. By effectively distributing your product or message, you increase the chances of reaching a wider audience and driving growth.


The stories of Duolingo's TikTok growth and AHIP CEO Matt Eyles' resignation shed light on the significance of distribution in startup success and industry leadership. Both cases emphasize the importance of adapting to audience expectations and recognizing the need for change. To achieve growth and remain competitive, startups and established organizations alike must prioritize distribution, understand their audience, embrace adaptability, and strike a balance between product development and effective distribution strategies. By doing so, they can position themselves for long-term success in an ever-evolving landscape.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)