Need Writing Help? Grammarly Goes Beyond Spell Check to Offer Serious Edits
After Ukrainian engineers Max Lytvyn and Alex Shevchenko sold their first company, MyDropBox, they were left with a great team but no product. So they gave their employees a challenge: solve the most interesting problem you can think of.
All of their engineers were English language learners, so “without thinking about market or monetization, they decided they wanted to build the most accurate language and spelling checker possible,” says Brad Hoover, the CEO of Grammarly, the startup that resulted from Lyvtyn and Shevchenko’s challenge. “The project managers were also the use case.
Once it was built, they decided to see if they could create a business around it.
Though the team was based in Ukraine, they reached out to American university professors to determine if there was a way to make it into a useful product, not just for English language learners, but also for English students, job seekers, and professionals.
Armed with advice from professors and linguists, the team created early versions of the Grammarly Editor, a tool that now checks documents for more than 250 errors rules, from misuse of quantifiers to faulty parallelism and unbalanced or misplaced punctuation. It also checks for spelling and plagiarism, and when it finds it, suggests proper citations already formatted based on the style the writer is using.
The point, though, Hoover says, isn’t to catchy lazy writers, but to make their writing more accurate.
Despite all the mistakes its products can catch, Grammarly isn’t out to replace standard copyeditors. “We’re not positioning Grammarly as a replacement for humans, but helping humans with contextual spelling and grammar mistakes so they can focus on higher-level content and structure,” Hoover says.
The company also created a free version called Grammarly Lite, so anyone who needs a second set of eyes can upload a document and get some basic grammar help, like corrections on punctuation, contextual spelling mistakes (their vs. there, for example), article use, capitalization and more.
Grammarly Editor comes in two forms—a Microsoft Word plug in and a web app —and requires a subscription that covers both. Individual subscribers can pay an annual fee of $139.95, or opt to pay monthly fees of $29.85, or quarterly fees of $59.95.
Though Grammarly is certainly a useful tool for businesses, the company is targeting consumers. A small piece of their overall business also comes from 300 institutional clients, mostly universities, the biggest being University of Phoenix.
Grammarly anticipated that some customers might be reluctant to pay again for features—spell and grammar checking—that are included in software they’ve already purchased. Part of the reason for the free product is … Next Page »