Ukraine has been one of the major tech hubs in Eastern Europe. Prior to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the country had witnessed an emerging tech scene that produced numerous notable startups with more than 50 venture capital (VC) funds to boost.
In 2021, Ukrainian startups received a total of $832 million in venture capital (VC) funding.
While the war definitely had an impact on the country’s startup ecosystem, tech remained its largest service export in 2023 and is likely to grow and recover despite the ongoing war, according to a report released by the Lviv IT Cluster.
"We have a unique opportunity to create today, test tomorrow and sell the day after tomorrow,” said Dmytro Kuzmenko, CEO of Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, in an exclusive Kyiv Post interview regarding the country’s business potential.
Here are the top Ukrainian startups that played a huge role in boosting the Ukrainian economy and tech sector.
Monobank is a FinTech startup that has garnered a reputation among Ukrainians for its mobile bank's convenience and usability.
Similar to other mobile-only banks, Monobank does not possess a physical branch and instead relies on Universal Bank, its mother bank, for most services – in fact, Monobank originally started as a retail product of Universal Bank, and it accounted for 80-90 percent of Universal Bank’s revenue in 2021.
At the time of writing, its services are available to Ukrainian citizens and permanent residents in Ukraine but not temporary residents.
In 2018, the PaySpace Magazine Awards recognized Monobank as the best Ukrainian FinTech startup.
Preply is an online teaching platform that connects tutors and students worldwide.
Founded in Kyiv in 2012, the educational technology (EdTech) company has since expanded its market to more than 180 countries with more than 35,000 tutors. It now has offices in Kyiv, Barcelona and New York.
In July 2023, the company received $70 million from VCs to integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into online tutoring.
Grammarly is a typing assistant that reviews spelling, grammar and punctuation in English texts.
Founded in Ukraine by Max Lytvyn, Alex Shevchenko and Dmytro Lider in 2009, Grammarly is now headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Kyiv, New York City, Vancouver and Berlin. Over the years, the startup has also incorporated new functionalities such as plagiarism checking and AI writing assistants.
GitLab is an online code repository for tech specialists to develop, secure and operate software and collaborate with different stakeholders within the development lifecycle.
GitLab, which is considered one of Ukraine’s first unicorns (a term to describe startups over $1 billion in value), was developed by Ukrainian developer Dmytro Zaporozhets in 2011, and the business was launched in 2014 with Dutch co-founder Sytse Sijbrandij.
In May 2023, GitLab and Google entered a strategic partnership to develop enterprise AI offerings.
Reface is a startup that utilizes AI tools for visual content most famous for its Reface deep fake face-swapping application.
In 2020, it raised a total of $5.5 million in funding from US investors.
Ajax Systems is a Ukrainian startup that develops and manufactures security systems from scratch.
"We produce devices completely from scratch. We choose the components, plan the architecture, develop the software and design the end product. This allows us to create hardware that is tailor-made for the software — and vice versa," their product description read.
Founded in 2011, it has grown from being a startup to an international company that sells its line of security products to over 120 countries worldwide.
People.ai is an AI platform that collects and analyzes sales and marketing-related data and helps businesses close deals.
Founded by Ukrainian entrepreneur Oleg Rogynskyy in 2016, the company gained traction in the business world with a refined customer relationship management (CRM) pipeline to facilitate the business outreach process.
In August 2021, Rogynskyy announced the company became a unicorn startup after receiving funding from the Emirati Mubadala Investment Company and the American fund Akkadian Venture.
MacPaw is a Ukrainian tech company that develops apps and services for Apple Mac users.
Founded in the city of Kyiv in 2008, Oleksandr Kosovan, the founder, was a student at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute at the time. The company is one of the major companies to develop dedicated software and services for Mac users and is well known in the Ukrainian IT world.
The company is also known for hosting one of the largest collections of Apple Mac computers in the world.
Elina Svitolina, one of Ukraine's leading tennis players, recently became MacPaw's global brand ambassador.
PetCube develops software and hardware that help pet owners monitor and interact with their pets remotely.
Founded in Kyiv in 2013, PetCube was initially funded on Kickstarter and went on to become a major player in the pet accessories market. Its range of products includes GPS pet trackers, interactive laser toys, and automated treat dispensers, among many others.
According to some sources, the company has raised a total of $14.1 million in over 12 funding rounds.
Respeecher is a speech synthesis software developed using archival recordings and AI technologies.
Based in Kyiv, the company was founded by Ukrainian founders Alex Serdiuk and Dmytro Bielievstov alongside US founder Grant Reaber. Its technology has been utilized by a range of film studios, such as Lucasfilm and Sony Interactive Entertainment.
Respeecher's team was involved in developing young Luke Skywalker's voice in Disney+’s The Book of Boba Fett, as reported by Vanity Fair.
Over the years, Respeecher has raised $3 million from Ff Venture Capital, Acrobator Ventures and other VC firms.
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