Octagram’s success story began in Switzerland compelled to take a pause in Latvia

  • 2023-07-13

Nicolas Tatarchenko, a Ukrainian inventor-turned-entrepreneur, has been through thick and thin over the 12 years since the birth of Octagram. He invented a modular engineering platform, known now as A1. The platform enables its users to create a wide range of building automation and security solutions using a single controller. The firmware is the only thing that needs to be changed. The availability of A1 makes it possible to develop automation and safety of buildings not only in leading countries, but also in countries with developing and underdeveloped economies.

“The use of A1 leads to resource savings, safety and comfort of consumers,” Nicolas told The Baltic Times Magazine before admitting: “However, our journey here in Latvia could be smoother. Being unable now to attract specialists from Russia and Ukraine is a challenge to us.”

The inception of Octagram dates back to 2010, when a team of engineers and entrepreneurs headed by Ukrainian inventor Tatarchenko, was invited by the Swiss Agency Development Economic – State of Vaud (DEV) to Switzerland to participate in an international program about technology transfer. 

“The Modular Engineering System we presented in the Yverdon-les-Bains techno park was praised along with world-renowned companies, including IBM, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Siemens, SAP, Logitech, VeriSign, Autodesk, eBay, Cisco, Yahoo!, Salesforce and others,” the Octagram CEO remembered.

The Tatarchenko team’s modular engineering system was first developed within Octagram AG, a Swiss company. Some of the work was done in the radiofrequency laboratory of the Institute of Information and Communication Technology at the University of Applied Sciences of Western Switzerland. 

In March 2011, the Modular Engineering Platform. (MEP) manufacturing began. A1 combines a unique solution for each customer with high quality and mass market prices. MEP was patented in Ukraine in July 2011. Between 2011 and 2014, A1 was installed in many EU countries. The Modular Engineering System patent was registered in the USA in October 2015 and in the Russian Federation in June 2019.

Over the years, the Octagram team has prepared a new version of the A1 platform for manufacturing. According to the Octagram leader, this new version includes all the wishes and requirements that have accumulated over more than 10 years of operation of the A1.

The new version of A1 remains fully compatible with early versions and is very simple. It operates simultaneously via two communication channels and has dual modular redundancy and triple modular redundancy. The new A1 provides the possibility of expanding the memory of keys/events up to 256 thousand. Customers can now order only the required amount of memory of A1 in the range of 4 – 256 thousand keys/events, up 4 thousand from before.

“Well, and the cherry on the cake is the option; the possibility of rewriting the firmware has been added without the need to manually press the “Reset” button,” the Octagram leader said.

“In our Octagram AG solutions, only one controller can be used, whereas the other manufacturers are forced to use dozens or even hundreds of different devices,” he added.

“During the years, Octagram has remained devout to its basic principles of business management in the company”, Nicolas said.

“We’ve built the business on five key pillars. Confidence, which allows you to make the most meaningful cooperation and effective. Respect adhering to the saying from over 2500 years ago: “Well-being creates respect and unhappiness comes from violence.” With 2023 out there, it still looks relevant for us. Cooperation – where relationships can move from the plane of the buyer-seller into the plane of the joint venture in which the company’s employees use their full potential to find optimal solutions for customers. Diligence –after all is said and written, it should be done. And, finally, freedom of choice – the company does not use implicit or explicit methods for forcing client companies to cooperate, partnership relations with customers are based on a voluntary basis. Thus, we can count on the fact that customers choose us thanks to the professionalism and experience of our employees,” Octagram leader said.

Despite the war-caused gloom, in June 2022, an enterprise for production of the A1 platform -Octagram SIA was established in Latvia to ramp up Octagram’s presence in the Baltics and the EU. 

“In cooperation with FORTELL SIA, Octagram SIA was set to provide a full range of services for A1 platform users in the Baltic region and produce a full range of modular engineering system components,” Nicolas said.

According to him, Latvia seemed a country with a successful history of electronics production and with significant potential for further development of enterprises such as Octagram. However, some disappointment followed, the businessman admits.

“Of course, the war in Ukraine was the most important thing that significantly influenced the situation with the development of A1 production in Latvia. The second important factor seems incompetence and inability to adapt to the new conditions by SIA “Mission Tech” wthich took over the organization of our activities in Latvia. The third factor relates to us – we did little to attract attention to the business, and, subsequently, obtain funds for the creation of production remotely,” N. Tatarchenko said.

“The thought that here in Latvia we cannot build production from scratch – partly due to the inability to attract specialists from Russia and Ukraine, where, in addition to Switzerland, the main specialists of the Octagram team are – makes us uneasy. Also, it turned out that there are only three companies for outsourcing electronics production in Latvia and about the same number in neighbouring Lithuania and Estonia. Given the starting conditions and not huge initial orders, the prospects for outsourcing became very unclear. But our team does not intend to give up,” Nicolas Tatarchenko said.

The situation reminds him of 2012, when the Octagram team carried out a similar search for the A1 manufacturer on outsourcing in Switzerland. 

“The search highlighted many electronics manufacturers in Switzerland, but that wasn't the most interesting thing. While studying the variety of possible outsourcing companies there, it turned out that the PCB assembly equipment they use was made in…Switzerland. Yes, in Switzerland, the country of banks and chocolate,” N. Tatarchenko remembered.

Eventually, Octagram's team found an electronics manufacturer in Watch Valley and began production of the A1 six months after the search began. 

“I think that this is an excellent example of a balanced approach to the country's infrastructure and good reason for thought in modern Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Our team hopes that common sense from officials will allow us to launch the production of A1 in Latvia faster. This manufacturing would create multiple jobs and the countries would access the technology for building automation and security,” N. Tatarchenko is convinced.

Amid the war-caused gloom, Octagram’s international team continues to search for ways to launch production in Latvia as soon as possible.

“We are not only preparing the organizational part of the project, but we are also improving the technological part. In the second half of 2022, the already very short list of components of the A1 platform one needs was reduced by a quarter. This makes it easier to start production on outsourcing,” the businessman said.

As A1 customers have been enjoying the benefits of the product and as the 15-billion-USD-industry continues expanding robustly, Octagram’s success in Latvia is perhaps just a matter of time. A better time must be ahead for everyone! Sooner or later.