Octa Energy Recharging for the Future or How Ukrainians Create an Ecosystem
The creators of Octa Energy consider that their competitive advantage is that they do not just custom charging stations, but create an ecosystem of their products. At the same time, all production is located in Ukraine, component materials - by 40% Ukrainian.
"This story began for me in the train Kiev-Odessa. It was there that I met the person who told me about the Octa Energy project and introduced it to its founders," one of the three owners, Alexander, wrote about the company creating charging stations for electric vehicles. Lunev. Alexander Omelkin and Andrei Smagalyuk offered to their new acquaintance, a radio engineer, who moved in 2014 from the Donbass to Kiev.
This happened in August 2015. A little earlier, the idea of creating charging stations for electric vehicles was born. Why this particular business? "I met a man who was involved in the distribution of electric cars, and he spoke about the problem of lack of charging stations. He asked me to make some kind of building where you could build sockets. I thought it would be nice to add something from electronics there, infected with this idea, Sasha (Alexandra Omelkina. - Ed.), and we began to develop the first charging station, ”Smagalyuk recalls.“ The understanding that it’s worth doing a separate business came at a time when we created a prototype, showed customers and it became clear it's clear that something can come of it. "
Entrepreneurs collect charging stations in their small office. Practically all Ukrainian components, in particular, the boards are made at the facilities of Ukroboronprom, the outer case is also assembled in Ukraine. But the electronics have to be imported, since such components are not produced in Ukraine.
The company realizes that on a global scale their charging stations are not an innovation, but in Ukraine such products as electric vehicles are still rare.
The creators of Octa Energy consider that their competitive advantage is that they do not just custom charging stations, but create an ecosystem of their products.
“In fact, this is a single platform on which you can build charging stations - from the budget series to a complex business line. If we wanted to do something quickly and sell, we would not have the opportunity to produce the products that we have now,” - Alexander Omelkin explains.
According to entrepreneurs, if many people buy ready-made products from foreign manufacturers, then integrate them into the Ukrainian market and sell them, then they all develop from scratch.
Investment and monetization
Initially, startup funding came from the own funds of the founders. “And now, if you need some serious investments, then we invest our money,” notes Alexander Omelkin. Both he and Andrei Smagalyuk continue in parallel with businesses that help them support the project. At the same time, Octa Energy has already received the first external injections - $ 35 thousand from the business incubator.
According to the calculations of entrepreneurs, they have already invested about $ 300 thousand in their project. This is not only money, but also equipment, tools, materials, and labor.
While the project is at the initial stage: sold several hundred devices. At first, the company focused its sales on the final consumer, but then went to work with dealers and is now building a dealer network throughout Ukraine.
Production is 100% in Ukraine, Ukrainian components make up 40%. Patented own development. It is possible to scale up the production and development of a network of own charging stations
The project team employs five people. Devices are manufactured in small batches, however, according to entrepreneurs, the product is ready for scaling. "Now we have a product line that we produce in small lots, but if we want, we can produce our products in large quantities. They have working documentation and corresponding licenses," Omelkin notes.
Entrepreneurs do not stop at what they have achieved by developing new product lines, sometimes by trial and error.
"We have several products that did not go. For example, charging stations in the form of a column. They turned out to be quite beautiful, but the market was not interested. Maybe this is due to the fact that we offered them at the end of 2015, when the market was not yet formed, "- says Alexander Omelkin.
The company plans to release a new line of charging stations by the end of the year, which will have minimal functionality, while it can be used both at home and in the office.
There are some ideas for expansion in related industries. "For example, a project with solar panels. There is a solar power station that generates electricity, its surplus can be used to charge electric vehicles. This can be done as two separate products, as a single product, as a gas station with solar panels. This is a project where no external sources of electricity ", - share plans in the company.
In order to effectively work and scale the business, the company intends to expand its team, attracting employees in the field of software development, as well as marketing and management.
Of course, to scale a business, investments are needed. The founders of the business are ready to attract partners to implement their ideas and even share their shares in the company.
And their strategic goal is access to foreign markets, primarily American and Western European. These are plans for 2019 already. And this year the team will refine its product and certify it for international markets. There have already been offers of cooperation from India and Canada.