Successful Ukrainian startups: The case of Grammarly – an online grammar checker

We continue our news series about startups with Ukrainian roots that have found success in international markets. Grammarly is a service that tracks grammatical errors and stylistic errors in real-time and explains how to avoid repeating errors in the future. The service highlights potential problems in the text and offers corrections with explanations.

Website: grammarly.com

Founders: Oleksiy Shevchenko, Maksym Lytvyn and Dmytro Lider.

Offices: Kyiv, San Francisco, New York, Vancouver

Company valuation: $ 1.3 billion

Total funding: $ 200 million

Employees: 250

Year of foundation: 2009

Unicorn: from 2019


History

Grammarly was started by Oleksiy Shevchenko, Maksym Lytvyn, and Dmytro Lider. It all started with the idea of ​​developing an online service that would check the works and essays of students for plagiarism. Guided by this idea, in 2004, Maxim and Alexey created MyDropbox, and in three years the service had been used by 800 educational institutions and 2 million students. After selling MyDropbox in 2009, together with Dmitry, the group founded Grammarly - a service that helps communicate more effectively in English. The service tracks grammatical errors and stylistic errors in real-time and explains how to avoid repeating errors in the future. The algorithm highlights potential problems in the text and offers corrections with explanations.

Oleksiy Shevchenko is a co-founder of Grammarly. As a product manager, Alex oversees product development for Grammarly.

Today, the company's CEO - Brad Hoover - is focused on product, strategy, team building, and culture. Brad used to be an investor, advisor, and helped finance and grow the venture capital firm General Catalyst Partners. Since 2018, Maksym Lytvyn has also been an investor and advisor to the American company FarmTogether, a technology platform for investing in agricultural land, where he advises on product design and product strategy.

Max Lytvyn is a co-founder of Grammarly, focused on identifying and expanding new market opportunities for its product range.

Investments

In their first-ever round, Grammarly attracted $110 million in investments from General Catalyst, IVP, and Spark Capital, with 10 million users in 2017. Grammarly became the first Ukrainian startup based in Kyiv to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in the public round. In the same year, mobile keyboards for iOS and Android were introduced. In 2019, the company announced the closure of the second round of financing, receiving $ 90 million from General Catalyst and reaching the status of the first Ukrainian "Unicorn." Dmytro Lider said at the time that "since the first round of investment, Grammarly has tripled the number of users - today it is more than 20 million people - and has significantly expanded the range of recommendations provided by the service."

Dmytro Lider is a co-founder of Grammarly. As Head of Language Technology, Dmytro focuses on research strategy and technical product management that works in Grammarly's natural language analysis.

Locations in Ukraine

Grammarly's Kyiv office is located on the 14th floor of the Gulliver Business Center. The office plan divides the space into six open space work areas. A 90-meter bridge connects two office levels and has lounge areas, including one with a charming fireplace. The company's office is extremely comfortable, but what is very remarkable is the care for the comfort and the very modern working conditions for Grammarly employees, partners, and guests. For example, the office has sleeping rooms and visually insulated cells, with sofas and tables for comfortable individual work. Recently, Grammarly was named one of the "Best Companies to Launch a Career 2020". The good news is that the startup is actively growing and will soon open a second office in Kyiv with an area of ​​1,300 square meters, which in the future can accommodate 130 employees.

Achievements

The service has gone beyond grammar correction and helps improve clarity, engagement, and writing tone. Today, Grammarly works on the basis of artificial intelligence and can analyze complex aspects of language and communication. The company has about 700 corporate clients, including Cisco, Boeing, Dow Jones, Dell, Expedia, Salesforce, and leading US universities. Grammarly intends to use the investment to further improve its technology, and solve language and communication problems. In particular, the company will continue to work on the tone detector and further product development for business customers.

View of the Grammarly service in Gmail.

In 2020, Grammarly became available for Microsoft Word on Mac and Word Online, updated the iPad app, and launched the Style Guide for business customers. In May, Grammarly announced its first Seed Round investment in the startup Docugami (Seattle, USA), a program based on artificial intelligence that shows inconsistencies in digital documents.

In further publications, we will talk about successful Ukrainian startups that were able to create a quality product and an effective team. We will learn how their ideas come about, how to choose the right partners, and find the first investment. The next company will be Petcube - a smart gadget for pets.