TechCrunch City Spotlight: Pittsburgh is getting closer, with impressive speakers including Carnegie University President Mellon Farnam Jahanian and Mayor Bill Peduto. However, we’ve saved the best for last: Our final speaker is Karin Tsai, director of engineering at Duolingo, a $ 2.4 billion company that aims to make language learning fun and accessible.
The event will take place on June 29, so be sure to register here (free) to listen to these conversations, enjoy the pitch-off, and network with local talent.
Tsai joined Duolingo in 2012 as one of its first engineers, and has witnessed the company’s growth from a rambling startup to a global company of 400 people. Her time stamp on the business has made her a key decision maker in many of her biggest decisions, from features to remove to how to monetize without compromising her mission of providing free education to everyone.
One thing to note is that while a whimsical owl and creative UX may seem straightforward, the world of language learning is controversial and requires healthy debate – and testing – for everyone in it.
“We try to do things that no other app really addresses: how do we create an experience that makes you extremely proficient in a language while meeting the expectations of our learners” to be fun and practical, I told me. Tsai during my interview she for my Duolingo EC-1. “Reconciling efficiency and commitment is something we are constantly struggling with. “
In this conversation, Tsai will explain how Duolingo turned to A / B testing to answer some of his biggest questions. We’ll also discuss other meta topics, like when to give up measuring the unmeasurable, and when tests fail and instinct reigns supreme. Tsai told me once that Duolingo spent years trying to find a metric that could encompass learning understanding and engagement all in one fell swoop.
“What froze us before was that we thought we needed such a measure to progress,” she explained. “And I think what honestly freed us was basically saying, ‘Screw it. We couldn’t progress while waiting for a learning metric.
I will be interviewing Tsai, so anyone who registers for this event is welcome. ask me questions for her that I will try to integrate into my chat.
Tsai will give us the startup builder perspective, while Mayor Peduto will talk about the challenges of building a startup ecosystem, and Carnegie Mellon University President Farnam Jahanian will talk about how to go from student to startup with the right resources.
Be sure to register for this free event on June 29 (click here to register) so you can watch these chats and riffs with members of the public during the networking opportunities. If you are a Pittsburgh-based startup founder, you must apply to introduce your startup (click here to apply). Expect to do a two-minute live pitch, get feedback from local VCs, and maybe even win our pitch-off.
I can’t wait to see you there!