The history of the Ukrainian freelance platform “Lemon.io”

Friday, August 20, 2021
3 MIN
The history of the Ukrainian freelance platform “Lemon.io”

Sales of $500,000 per month and Canadian VCs via "Twitter"

Alexander Volodarskiy, CEO of the freelance platform Lemon.io, has been helping American startups/" rel="dofollow">startups find freelance IT talents in Ukraine since 2015.

Just over the last year, the startup reached $ 500,000 GMV per month (Gross merchandise value) and paid Ukrainian freelancers a total of $7 million.
start-up to grow for several years, Alexander says in the material.

Lemon.io - developer's marketplace
When a client comes to us with a request for developer services, we check the startup itself, its technical specifications and offer a candidate from our pool, whose qualifications are most suitable for the request.
The verification process is the same for the candidate, this is an English test, personal qualities, and a technical interview.

The Lemon.io team consists of 30 people.

Our clients are American startups, and our developers are from Ukraine. In addition to individual contractors, we also cooperate with some IT companies and help find projects for employees on the bench.

We are actively growing, looking for talented developers, creating a culture of freelancing in Ukraine, but initially, the startup model was completely different.

"Uber for" development
In 2015, we launched Coding Ninjas. The concept was called "Uber for development": a client comes to us, submits a project, and the system selects for him a developer who is suitable in terms of qualifications, is not busy with current projects, and can take the project into development right now. The model worked very well because while the client spent days on the execution of tasks by a freelancer or in-house developer, our freelancers completed the task in a few hours.

In the first years we grew due to referrals, but the more customers we got, the more we realized that this model does not work with large volumes.

Clients did not understand how to work with developers, how to draw up technical specifications, how to accept work, the team did not cope with operational work. In the process of studying clients, I noticed that the wrong people started coming to us.

We targeted clients with a task volume of approximately 20 hours/month, and we were approached by those who asked developers for tasks for 40 hours/week.

It annoyed me a lot, I wanted to revolutionize the IT development processes, and it all came down to a simple full-time selection of developers. In fact, customers who had a demand for such an innovation were less than 10% of our rhubarb, the startup required a revision and change of the model.


Underestimating the importance of the employer brand. We did a lot of content for the US market, but almost nothing for the local market. When it came time for intensive hiring, no one knew about us, everyone wanted to work with high-profile startups with a strong name.

The slow recruiting process due to the lack of an employer brand has slowed our growth significantly.
Remember that it is important to be present not only in the information space of customers but also potential employees.

What's next?
Our team has an ambitious goal for 2021 - $10 million GMV, and I write about the progress on my Twitter account. We also plan to scale to Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland.

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