16 Unicorn Startups with R&D Offices in Ukraine

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When thinking about startups, we imagine a fast-paced environment that is aimed at meeting the ever-changing customers’ needs. Relevancy is a cornerstone for such ventures, and it may become an issue to find the proper workforce backed by a modern, well-equipped office.

This is when such countries as Ukraine become an obvious choice for launching an R&D office abroad. Backed by the largest territory in Europe, Ukraine can boast its 40M+ population with a huge percentage of people involved in the IT sector, which allows for choosing from all sorts of developers. As of today, there are more than 200,000 high-skilled IT-specialists and over 16,000 new graduates each year whose work ethics are very compatible with Western European countries. You can also add in myriads of specialists from non-technical areas who can easily fit the other positions that are not involved in development. As a result, Ukraine is now among the top 20 investment-friendly countries for foreign countries by UNCTAD and has been rapidly developing since 2014.

If you are on the fence about launching an R&D office in Ukraine, you can look at the experience of numerous companies that have taken advantage of the deep talent pool, accessible property, and simplified taxes. Here is the list of famous unicorn startups that have established their offices in Ukraine, and it has paid off big time:

Grammarly

Image courtesy: Grammarly

Grammarly is a platform where a big portion of texts is written; it is a prime tool for all sorts of professional writers, copywriters, technical writers, etc. It automatically detects grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes. On top of that, it can analyze the style and replace words with better options, reduce the plagiarism level, and merge words into compound sentences.

Established in 2009 in Kyiv, it has become available on all platforms: Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. It is also accessible on iOS and Android and is distributed via a freemium model: a free basic version plus a monthly subscription for deeper text analysis. It was recognized with a “Gold Award” from TopTen Reviews in 2013.

Petcube

Image courtesy: Petcube

Petcube is a well-known company that excels at designing and producing hardware and software for pets. Founded in Kyiv in 2012, the idea was to help owners who are away follow and interact with their pets. Products such as Petcube Bites, Play, Camera, and the app form the ecosystem that allows for ordering pet supplies, sending voice signals via 2-way speakers, watching live videos, playing laser-toys and interacting with their pets by using Wi-Fi gadgets that are integrated between each other.

By 2017, Petcube received $14M in investments and sold more than 100,000 cameras alone, not to mention several Kickstarter campaigns that helped them partner with other companies on the way to becoming a proud unicorn startup.

Ring

Image courtesy: Ring

Ring uses a fairly similar concept of video cameras, motion sensors, and apps connected to the same system to enable the best security level in living areas remotely. Depending on the model, a customer can receive video and motion signals on their app under different angles and decide whether the doors should stay locked or not. The solar panel can also be a part of the gadget to allow for steady surveillance flow, complemented by in-depth settings like alert cases, faceplates, etc.

With a good part of the developers working in Ukraine, Ring was bought by Amazon for $1.2–1.8B and is now available on iOS, Android, and Windows mobile, resulting in a 55% crime rate decrease in the areas where it was installed.

Readdle

Image courtesy: Readdle

Another Ukrainian venture founded in 2007, this time in Odessa, it was built to make Mac users’ lives easier. Readdle started making such programs as PDF Expert, Spark, and Scanner Pro that were awarded as App of the Year, Best of 2016, and Editors’ Choice by Apple respectively. As a result, their products have surpassed the 100M download mark. By simply developing ways to convert, download, and read different types of files, the company has gained immense popularity and quickly turned into a massive venture from a small startup. Having their own email app and calendar was also a good decision thanks to the vast expertise in all-around development areas.

Talkable

Image courtesy: Talkable

Talkable is a tech platform built to increase customers’ retention by enabling breakthrough referral programs. Users can form their own Refer-a-Friend patterns, track all purchases and share to reward advocates and friends, test it beforehand, and receive a full analysis of the product flow: shares, clicks, purchases, etc. Whether it was a template or a made-from-scratch referral program, users can adjust it at any stage and schedule the duration period. Talkable analysts are also a unit that will help their users amplify sales and ensure ROI by providing performance feedback.

Since 2010, the venture has become a seasoned partner for many e-commerce companies, and the infusion of a $4.2M investment and an R&D office in Ukraine have surely played their role in its overall success.

Hired

Image courtesy: Hired

Hired is the “talent marketplace” that was made to connect outstanding employees with innovative companies. Unlike recruiting agencies, Hired relies upon machine-learning algorithms that will match your skills with potential employers. Each applicant can have an assigned advocate that fully alleviates the pressure from the process; however, it’s only the employee who runs the show as the negotiations will be performed by these 2 parties without anyone else involved. The algorithm will analyze all the info, including the portfolio, which allows for saving both time and nerves during the hiring process — usually a very stressful affair that can sometimes turn into a full-time job for some people.

A startup that emerged in 2012, it has received more than $132M in funding and has partnered with lots of big companies that have surely played a role in becoming a unicorn one.

Allset

Image courtesy: Allset

Allset is a Ukrainian startup that decided to vastly reduce the waiting time in the restaurants for food lovers. By simply aggregating and partnering with major dining outlets, the app can help users receive their food upon arrival, which will also decrease the burden for chefs and waiters and structure their workload. It also serves as a marketing tool for exposing restaurants people didn’t know about beforehand.

The convenient app menu and catering to businessmen in dense city centers helped the startup quickly gain popularity and become in-demand in New York, Chicago, Boston, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and in other large city centers with a high concentration of people who treat their time as money.

Preply

Image courtesy: Preply

Preply is a proud edtech representative that connects tutors with students and allows them to find their match perfectly. Thanks to the deep customization level, each potential student will go through a brief testing of their knowledge level, goals, payment amount, and schedule. This is a fine way to sort people with, for example, technical English knowledge and those who teach casual or legal-style language. The platform also facilitates and validates professional tutors, as they no longer have to spend time approaching students and constantly shift their schedule. The machine learning system also serves as a nice tool for sorting the reviews to make the best tutors recognized among the students for a good job.

Launched in Ukraine, 2012, it was already recognized as one of the most promising startups in the country and got picked up by EastLabs and received numerous investments (more than $5.6M in the first year) from other ventures. Since then, Preply has approached markets on all continents with 47,000 tutors now available and counting.

Mobalytics

Image courtesy: Mobalytics

As it stands from the name, Mobalytics provides the best analysis for MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) types of games, more specifically, League of Legends (LoL). The amount of people who play this game is mind-boggling, as it surpassed the 100M mark two years ago; therefore, it requires a gargantuan effort when calculating all the data it produces. This is where machine learning comes into play, as it forms the GPI score for each player that further helps them adjust actions to improve performance. It forms pre-game and post-game analysis with a dashboard of a 0–100 index for each parameter that is easy to understand, improving the whole game experience exponentially.

This is now the no.1 resource for professional LoL players and casters to evaluate each player’s performance when the human brain can’t process the data and is now an essential tool for one of the biggest games in existence. Once founded in Ukraine, in 2016, it rapidly gained ground, receiving more than $2.6M in initial funding.

People.ai

People.ai is a sales management platform, and Artificial Intelligence is what made it so special. By using it, the software stores all the info regarding sales activities and improves the existing CRMs by providing automated data reports via dashboards and further provides salespersons and executives with practical advice regarding which activities should be enhanced. The entire purpose was to greatly reduce the time for manual data entry from the salesforce and focus them more on selling goods while AI takes care of the digital area. It is compatible with all CRM systems and can complement their database by adding contacts from emails, calendars, and a dialer.

This startup, with a dedicated team of Ukrainian developers, was launched in 2016 and is now synchronized with more than 90 sales management platforms, which have became the driving force for stepping into the market with solid external funding.

Sixa

Image courtesy: Sixa

Initially built for developers, Sixa grants on-demand access to PCs when more processing power is needed. Not only does it provide users with Cloud PC hardware, but it also shares a high-speed Internet connection for your activity. When accessing the Cloud PC, the Internet becomes the cable transmitting the signal as you can plug in phones, scanners, printers, cameras, or even gamepads to interact with it. You also get to choose the PC specs beforehand and select the installed hardware so you don’t have to waste your time trying to set it up before the work begins.

It is now available for any kinds of activity: either it’s deep learning, AI, or bitcoin mining, which has led to a high demand on the market and attracting roughly $4M in investments at the very beginning of the project. Founded in 2015 and powered by Ukrainian developers, this company made a popular product that is now available on Windows, Mac, and Android platforms.

Elementum

Image courtesy: Elementum

Elementum is a supply chain platform that has recommended itself as a smart tool to streamline manufacturing and logistics, especially when the operations don’t go according to plan. It synchronizes supply chains with Cloud apps and enables risk management, order automation, and monitoring. The key feature is the Product Graph that makes sense of millions of data sources and displays a full picture of global economy and routes, allowing to track the movement in real-time through the whole supply chain — down to the smallest segments. The AI element is also what makes it special when orchestrating large chunks of data to further provide them for logistic teams.

After kicking off in 2012, this startup managed to attract more than $67M and opened an office in Kiev that is responsible for the digital development of their venture.

DataRobot

Image courtesy: DataRobot

DataRobot is a machine-learning platform that was intended to help data scientists build and deploy precise predictive models in a few seconds. Now, it’s a well-rounded platform for business analysts, executives, software engineers, and IT professionals who wish to add machine learning or AI elements to their projects or enterprises. By using AI, DataRobot simplified the way to gain predictions and insights, which resulted in reducing it to 3 steps: dragging and dropping the data, the automatic creation of hundreds of models, and the deployment of the best of them.

After launching in 2012, DataRobot hired more than 80 data scientists, Big Data, and machine-learning engineers in Ukraine for remote work and attracted roughly $125M in investments.

AppsFlyer

Image courtesy: AppsFlyer

This well-known company began its journey in 2011 to pursue the goal of making a fine platform for mobile attribution and marketing analytics. With numerous offices around the world, including a Ukrainian R&D department, AppsFlyer managed to create a Service Development Kit (SDK) that is now one of the most used across the industry. After it is installed on a mobile app, the user gets full access to conversion data, user acquisition, and retention numbers for each marketing campaign. Convenient dashboards, 3500+ partnered media outlets, and a high security level is what has made it an integral part of roughly 98% of smartphones using their technology.

Receiving funding from Microsoft and partnering with them has also played a role in its quickly becoming another unicorn of the startup world.

Should I Open an R&D Department in Ukraine?

Ukrainian techies have several important advantages over other developers that make them eligible for the competition. First of all, the talent pool here is just huge. With over 100,000 IT professionals currently employed in Ukraine and 15,000 joining them every year, it’s quite easy to find a team that possesses a certain expertise and experience. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of running an R&D department in this country is the low cost of living and simple tax system. Developers with the same skills set and experience in Ukraine will cost significantly less than in the neighbor European Union (for example in Germany or UK) and certainly less than ones in the United States, while maintaining the same or even higher level of proficiency. Furthermore, Ukrainian IT people speak pretty decent English, so you can communicate freely with your employees and let them join online and offline meetings with other team members which reside at your headquarters.

Of course, it’s always up to you to decide whatever opening an office in Ukraine is a good idea. But if you decide to launch a new office in Ukraine, you would be in a good company. Besides the unicorns mentioned above, the country also hosts dedicated teams from world’s biggest giants like Oracle, Phillips, Wargaming, Ericsson, Microsoft, and a long list of others. Want to join them? Contact us to learn how to get your new R&D office up and running in just 4–6 weeks.