Students, teachers, and office workers all use Grammarly, a grammar-checking program, to write in English without making mistakes. Of course, grammar is important, but can it make one rich?
Not grammar, but this grammar checker has made two of its founder’s billionaires. Entrepreneurs Max Lytvyn and Alex Shevchenko, both of Ukrainian origin, have joined Forbes’ billionaires list since Grammarly was founded in 2009.
In November 2021, the popular grammar-checking tool received US$200 million in funding, boosting their net worth to at least US$4 billion each. Max Lytvyn and Alex Shevchenko build Grammarly along with Dmytro Lider.
Grammarly is one of the most successful companies today, but it did not get there without talent and hard work. The software’s user interface is so precise that it eventually outperformed all the conventional grammar and proofreading tools.
So how did the three friends founded and succeed with Ukraine’s priciest tech start-up? Here is the complete story of Grammarly’s founding and success
Grammarly Inc. is a technology company headquartered in California, USA. It is an artificial intelligence-powered online text editor. The editor double-checks spelling, grammar, punctuation, and other errors.
Grammarly was founded in 2009 by three Ukrainians: Alex Shevchenko, Max Lytvyn, and Dmytro Lider. Since then, the company has grown to be known for its assistance with English writing. It’s rare to find a writing tool on the web that isn’t integrated with the Grammarly tool.
A significant portion of the 30 million users of the business is signed up for Grammarly Premium, a subscription service. Furthermore, the tool is used daily by 600 universities and 30,000 teams from around the world.
The origins of Grammarly can be traced back to Alex Shevchenko and Max Lytvyn’s time as International Christian University students in Ukraine. These two students observed that nearly everyone downloaded essays from the internet in 2000. Teachers didn’t seem to notice, however.
The students, thus, were unable to tap into the power of their own creativity and were easily corrupted. In an effort to rid students of this false notion, Alex began developing software, and in 2004 he created the My Dropbox service.
He formed a team, which included Max and 15 other people, and worked on this project. The software’s primary function was to detect plagiarism in essays. Even though it was a paid service, 800 universities were using it by 2007.
The team’s invention of My Dropbox was a huge success because, before it, there was only one other company using the same technology for commercial purposes. Blackboard, a well-known provider of educational platforms, purchased the product that same year.
Following the acquisition of MyDropBox by the ed-tech company Blackboard, Max and Alex, along with Dmytro Lider as a software engineer, founded “SentenceWorks” in an attempt to address a more fundamental and universal problem: effective communication.
They reasoned that if people could be guided through the mechanics of the language, they might not feel the need to copy text from other sources.
The founders funded the original cloud-based product, which focused on Grammatical Error Correction. SentenceWorks briefly became EssayRater to appeal to the student community before rebranding as Grammarly in May 2010.
When Grammarly first launched, it was an online editor that you could use to copy and paste lengthy content. After leaving to make a cup of coffee, you could return to the tab showing Grammarly’s recommendations and errors it had found.
A venture capitalist named Brad Hoover was searching for ways to improve his writing later that year. When he came across Grammarly, he was so taken aback by it that he got in touch with Max, Alex, and Dmytro to let them know. And he teamed up with the team.
In 2011, two years after the company’s founding, Brad Hoover decided to join the team as its CEO. Because the company is expanding, they believe Hoover will assist them in formally distilling their values into the company’s framework.
Many users provide feedback, which Alex, Max, and Dmytro use to show that Grammarly is used for a variety of communication styles. anything from a private email to a straightforward student essay to high-stakes professional writing.
They eventually created a Chrome extension and a free version of their services so that anyone could use them. The free service detects grammatical errors, unnecessary words, and misspellings, whereas the paid version provides additional suggestions and even detects plagiarism.
For the past 12 years, they have continuously improved their services because about 30 million people have used them daily. The business wanted to make English writing assistance available to everyone.
This new business model has provided the company with numerous new opportunities. They continued to develop the Grammarly extension for various browsers, including Safari, Firefox, and Edge, to support everyone who writes.
Without a lot of effort and continuous development, the company would not be where it is today. The company set aside a $110 million fund in 2017 to increase the platform’s adaptability, which has aided in the growth of the business.
The company hoped to become a much larger assistant to writers all over the world. As the company has expanded and grown, it has honed its support on its websites and decided to add it as an add-on for Microsoft Office on Windows and Mac.
To allow users to focus solely on their work without being distracted by tabs, they have also updated their online editor and released a desktop application. They’ve also launched a Grammarly Keyboard for iPhone and Android devices, making it easier to write and providing an instant correction.
For IPad users, they have also developed a built-in editor and keyboard to accommodate everyone. The reason why the business has expanded so much in the present is that it has realized how crucial its service is to its customers.
They have made it a point to stay current with technology and to continuously improve all of their services. They don’t just serve individuals; they’ve also launched Grammarly Business, which enables team members in businesses to collaborate effectively and engage with customers through a unified, compelling brand message.
According to CNBC, Grammarly is currently worth $16 billion in its most recent funding round. Because they identified the needs and issues people are currently facing and provided a solution for them, the company has grown significantly in today’s society.
Grammarly is a simple piece of software that has outperformed many competitors, including Microsoft’s grammar check. Its operation is similar to a human teacher pointing out your mistakes and assisting you in correcting them.
The founders did not accomplish it quickly. Grammarly is the result of many years of effort and struggle. Here are some takeaways from the founders:
— Build A Stronger Foundation:
All three founders have outstanding educational backgrounds. Their education serves as the foundation for their success. Max Lytvyn and Alex Shevchenko moved to the United States and Canada to pursue master’s degrees in business administration, respectively.
Max went to the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University, while Alex attended the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
Dmytro Lider, on the other hand, had previously graduated from the National Aviation University in Kyiv with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and a master’s degree in science in software engineering.
Students frequently misinterpret dropout success stories when they hear them. It should be viewed as some sort of motivation to keep trying after a setback, rather than a sign that studying is not important.
— Make A Product That Solves A Problem:
According to Forbes, the talented trio behind Grammarly founded the company to help students with their grammar and spelling in particular. Dmytro, Max, and Alex have since transformed it into an AI-driven grammar checker that operates across 500,000 applications and websites.
There are therefore excellent chances that your product will be successful if you concentrate on identifying a problem and finding a solution. Sometimes a problem may appear minor, like poor grammar from a student, but its effects may be significant, like the student’s overall results.
Thus, just concentrate on the issue at hand, no matter how big or small, and work to improve and ease people’s lives. You will eventually have a fantastic product.
— Don’t Forget Your Roots After Your Success:
Grammarly hasn’t lost sight of its Ukrainian roots despite achieving greater success in the US and other countries. They continue to give their domestically-based employees their full salaries and benefits despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
They additionally declared in March that they would start with a US$5 million fund and donate all net revenue they had received from Russia since the start of the conflict in 2014. They are joining other Ukrainian public figures, such as actress Mila Kunis, in making similar efforts.
According to Quartz, Max Lytvyn and Alex Shevchenko have also stated that the company has halted operations in Russia and Belarus, where Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military has established a staging ground for an invasion.
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