Coronavirus drives record job losses as companies and businesses worldwide are forced to shut their doors in the wake of a new crisis. However, what gives us grounds for hope is the concerted effort of the global community that has united in solidarity, with companies and individuals donating funds to counter the novel pandemic, as well as tech startup achievements. Today, we recount recent encouraging news from startups of Ukrainian origin.

Allset 

In late March, Allset raised $8.25 million in the Series B funding round led by EBRD and a number of investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Greycroft, SMRK VC Fund, and Inovo Venture Partners. 

As Stas Matvienko, the food pre-ordering service founder, said the initial goal was to raise $12+ million, but due to the coronavirus measures, the round almost failed. The restaurant business operation was under question in several cities, and as a result, several potential investors had disappeared.

With the help of the Allset app, you can make a reservation and pay the bill, as well as get healthy personalized recommendations in a particular restaurant. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the company has expanded the capabilities of its service with the option of contactless takeaway orders. Allset waives the 12 percent commission for restaurants that offer this option. The company also provides a $4 daily discount on takeaway orders to the app users.

Preply

Preply, an international EdTech marketplace for learning foreign languages, has raised $10 million in Series A round led by London-based Hoxton Ventures, and Point Nine Capital, All Iron Ventures, The Family, EduCapital, and Diligent Capital also participating. Besides, several individual angel investors took part, namely, Arthur Kosten from Booking.com, former Upwork CEO Gary Swart, Unity Technologies CEO David Helgason, and Couchsurfing founder Daniel Hoffer. The total amount of funds raised exceeded $15 million. 

The funding will help the company strengthen its position on the markets of North America, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the UK. Preply is going to open an office in the US, the market which is of strategic importance to the project. The company currently has offices in Kyiv and Barcelona.

Preply reports a record number of tutors registering on the platform and hours students are booking in some countries, where schools have been closed due to the pandemic's spread, as compared to the same period in February.

Although Preply has been focusing on foreign languages, the startup has started to engage tutors in maths, chemistry, and creative writing. Also, new tools to help tutors evaluate homework, monitor progress, and students learn more effectively will be added. 

Forbes recognition

Two startups with Ukrainian roots are ranked as America's Best Startup Employers, according to Forbes. In particular, GitLab ranked 35th and Allset 263d. In total, 500 startups were selected out of more than 2,500 applicants based on the three criteria: employer reputation, employee satisfaction, and growth. GitLab is an open code company that develops software for the software development lifecycle, which became the first Ukrainian unicorn valued more than $1 billion in 2018. The main competitor of the startup is GitHub.

Startup Grind Global 2020

13 tech startups represented Ukraine at Startup Grind Global 2020, the 10th global conference for entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley, USA, which took place on February 11-12. AXRDAFT, Delfast Inc., and Reply.io are the 3 Ukrainian startups out of 4,000 applications that made it to the top 50 of the Accelerate Program. AXDRAFT offers automation of legal processes, helping customers draft legal documents 10 times faster and avoid mistakes. The service increases the efficiency of the legal departments by 25%, enabling the delegation of legal routine tasks without risk.

Delfast’s story began in 2017 with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign. The founders reached their $50,000 goal in one day. The team achieved overwhelming success on Kickstarter thanks to its revolutionary e-bike Prime model. Prime set a Guinness world record covering 367 km (228 mi) distance on a single charge, which is more than a Tesla 3.

Reply.io is a platform for automation of personal business communication, including emails, calls, tasks, social networking contacts to free up sales managers’ time for important meetings and closing deals.

Red Dot Award 2020

Petcube’s latest interactive pet cameras Petcube Bites 2 and Petcube Play were selected for a 2020 Red Dot Product Design Award, one of the most prestigious international design prizes. The Red Dot has awarded the best products in 3 categories (product design, brand and communication design, and design concepts) since 1955.

The cameras’ design was created by Ozero, which has separated from Petcube, but is still working on the company’s product design. Petcube Bites 2 can record Full HD video with a 160° angle view and dispense pieces of dry food short or long distance as well as schedule automatic treat dispensing. In Petcube Play 2, the mechanical platform was changed, with laser movements becoming more smooth. The first generation Petcube Bites also won the Red Dot Award for Best Product Design in 2018.

Head of Design of the hardware startup studio Concepter, has recently congratulated another Ukrainian startup Nuka on winning the second Red Dot Product Design Award. In 2019, Nuka was selected for its eternal pencil design, and 2020 has brought the award for its durable notebook. More details will follow later.

Photo: Preply, Petcube