How Duolingo and Atly Built Successful Companies With Unique Approaches


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 05, 2023

3 min read


How Duolingo and Atly Built Successful Companies With Unique Approaches


Duolingo and Atly are two companies that have successfully built large user bases and generated substantial revenue, all while staying true to their respective missions. Duolingo, a language-learning platform, achieved massive growth by focusing on a big market and using data-driven decision-making. Atly, a social mapping platform, aims to create a social paradigm for discovering real-world locations, offering unique features and monetization options. By examining the strategies and principles behind their success, we can gain valuable insights into building sustainable companies.

Going After a Big Market:

One commonality between Duolingo and Atly is their focus on tapping into large markets. Duolingo founders recognized the demand for affordable language learning and targeted the millions of people who couldn't afford expensive software. This decision laid the foundation for Duolingo's success, as they were able to beta test their idea and understand user preferences on a large scale.

Similarly, Atly aims to create a social platform for mapping and discovering places to go. By positioning themselves as the "Reddit for real-world places," they are capitalizing on the natural connection between social interaction and location-based services. This approach allows Atly to tap into the vast market of individuals seeking recommendations and information about various locations.

Data-Driven Decision Making:

Both Duolingo and Atly prioritize data-driven decision-making. Duolingo's founders used data to inform all of their decisions, constantly evolving their product based on user feedback and preferences. This approach allowed them to create a highly engaging and addictive language-learning experience. By incorporating gamification elements and personalized exercises, Duolingo kept users coming back and achieving their language learning goals.

Atly, on the other hand, emphasizes community engagement and relies on user-generated content. By leveraging the power of social platforms like Reddit and Google Maps, Atly creates a space where users can share recommendations and interact with others. The platform's success hinges on continuously analyzing user data to improve the user experience and provide relevant and trustworthy information about places.

Unique Monetization Strategies:

Duolingo and Atly both faced challenges when it came to monetization. Duolingo's mission to provide free language education to all users made charging for the app or displaying ads undesirable. Instead, they focused on leveraging user-generated translations to create a B2B service for companies seeking high-quality translations. By partnering with businesses and selling translated content, Duolingo was able to subsidize the cost of learning for users and continue providing the app for free.

Atly, on the other hand, is exploring various monetization options. While the platform is not currently generating revenue, they plan to offer community management and monetization tools to community managers who can then charge for access to exclusive content or features. By empowering community managers to monetize their maps, Atly creates a revenue stream while maintaining a free experience for users.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Focus on a big market: Identify untapped potential and go after a large market that your competitors have overlooked. By addressing the needs of a massive user base, you can lay the foundation for success.
  • 2. Embrace data-driven decision-making: Continuously analyze user data to understand preferences, pain points, and areas for improvement. By using data to inform your decisions, you can create a highly engaging and personalized experience for users.
  • 3. Explore unique monetization strategies: Think outside the box when it comes to monetization. Look for ways to provide value to users while generating revenue, whether it's through partnerships, user-generated content, or offering exclusive features for a fee.


Duolingo and Atly have both achieved remarkable success by staying true to their missions, focusing on large markets, and embracing unique monetization strategies. Duolingo's commitment to providing free language education while leveraging user-generated translations showcases their dedication to making language learning accessible to all. Atly's approach of creating a social platform for mapping and discovering places taps into the natural connection between social interaction and location-based services. By incorporating actionable advice from their experiences, aspiring entrepreneurs can build sustainable companies that prioritize user experience and generate revenue.

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