- BBA from International University
- MBA from Rotman School of Management
- Alex Shevchenko co-founded 'MyDropBox Service' which was later acquired by BlackBoard Inc.
2. Origin Story
Alex Shevchenko got his bachelor's degree in 2001 from the International University in Ukraine. It was during this time that Shevchenko met his eventual co-founder, Max Lytvyn.
During the 2000s, the internet was gaining rapid popularity among students. Alex Shevchenko and Max Lytvyn noticed that most students used to download the research papers and essays from the internet for their school/college assignments. However, back in the day, the internet was less popular among the general public in Ukraine. Hence, it was not obvious to the professors that the submissions to homework assignments could be plagiarized. Shevchenko began building the solution to address this problem and launched MyDropBox Service - which checked essays for plagiarism. This attracted the attention of many universities and by the year 2007, 800 universities and ~2M students were using the service.
Alex Shevchenko and Max Lytvyn eventually sold the business to Blackboard. However, one of the conditions was that Lytvyn would need to work in the company for two years to ensure full integration of the two systems. However, the moment his tenure of two years was completed, Lytvyn packed his bags and left for Toronto to join his friends to build Grammarly.
It was originally planned that this would also be a technology for universities, to help them teach students the English language. As conveyed by their third co-founder, Dmitry Leader, "From the experience of the previous project, we knew that even native-speaking students in the States have big problems with writing literacy."
However, they realised that the sales of Grammarly were very slow and they didn't want to use Universities as an intermediary, rather directly selling the tech to the end user. They also made a major tweak to their target audience - now they would not restrict themselves to people who want to learn English but expand it to everyone who uses English in their everyday life.
Shevchenko and Lytvyn decided to build this using their own money made from the sale of the previous project. They also found one of the main reasons individuals indulged in plagiarism: the complexity of communication. They decided to tackle this problem!
3. Other interesting points
- Alex Shevchenko and Max Lytvyn invested the money they earned from the sale of MyDropBox service into building Grammarly. They didn't want to waste time finding money and engaging an investor, instead deciding to invest that entirely on solving the problem.
"This is something in the air and water that inspires people to do new things, build new products. This is access to people who have created and scaled companies such as Google and Facebook. These people walk the same streets as us. We communicate with them, these are our mentors." - Alex Shevchenko