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From precision agriculture to precision artillery

Meteotrek is a 100% Ukrainian product, consisting of in-house manufactured weather stations, proprietary software, and a 15-year experience in implementing hardware-software complexes.

We conduct project analysis to find the optimal equipment configuration, assist in integrating weather data into business processes, and continually improve the functionality of both the software and hardware.

" A day before the war, we were still making plans, expanding the company not only in Ukraine but beyond its borders."

Just a day before the full-scale Russian invasion, Meteotrek took part in the Cropwise Camp event. There, they exchanged knowledge about digital technology use in agriculture, learned about the new, enhanced features of Cropwise Operations, which would be available in the 2022 season, and discovered best practices for implementing technology in production, as well as the actual results of its use.

They met with colleagues, made new plans, and built partnerships. They continued to do what they had been doing in recent years - developing Meteotrek, not only in Ukraine but beyond. They planned to meet the needs of their clients with a high-quality weather monitoring product and impeccable service, helping agricultural enterprises implement innovations. Then, in a single moment, everything changed.

"Where to evacuate our families, and what to do in this situation?"

On February 24, 2022, every Ukrainian woke up in a new Ukraine and a new world. Unfortunately, the worst scenario for the country from the possible options was confirmed. Of course, going to the office for work was out of the question. In the first days, we hardly communicated through corporate Telegram channels, let alone by phone. Everyone was concerned about their loved ones.

The first thoughts when the war began were about where to evacuate one's family and what to do in this situation. We had been monitoring the news and discussing the possibility of war even before it escalated, but we wanted to believe in a better outcome. A few weeks before Russia's invasion, we held meetings with the founders of the company and discussed possible scenarios. We planned the first steps and the overall response of our business to any development in the country. However, you can't fully prepare for a war, no matter how hard you try.

"Ukrainian artillery cannot function properly without weather stations."

Meteotrek company is fully operational. From the first days of the war, we didn't stop our business operations in any way. We continued to provide 100% support to our clients. War presents unpredictable challenges for everyone. We received a large number of inquiries from the military and volunteers regarding whether our weather stations could meet the needs of our artillery units. As it turned out, the military, especially the artillery, cannot function effectively without weather stations. There are specific requirements for the devices (not specified for security reasons) that the architecture of Meteotrek did not meet at the time.

However, we made changes quickly and efficiently, both in the hardware and software for working with weather stations. While working on the new station configuration, another challenge arose - each sensor has its own accuracy and allowable error. The requirements for sensors set by the artillery were much higher than those needed for agricultural purposes. We had limited components suitable for producing military weather stations in our inventory, but we did everything possible to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine address this issue. This is how we reprofiled the company's activities. It was unexpected for us as well.

"Every business's main goal today is to stay afloat."

We had to unload nearly all of the equipment in stock in March. Additionally, there was a shortage of stations and sensors even for the next clients, creating a backlog. Most components were being delivered to the country via maritime transport.

In Kyiv, we have engineering, design, and software development departments. In Ukraine, we design equipment and develop the architecture, and the actual boards are printed in China. Our engineers then add all the necessary elements to these boards and load the firmware. This is how Ukrainian Meteotrek controllers and sensors are created. Some sensors are purchased from China, and some are sourced from Europe and the USA. In mid-February, we received the previously ordered batch of sensors, and the next batch didn't even have the chance to leave for Ukraine.

Today, some of our clients have frozen their contracts. Others with significant contracts are requesting deferrals until June or July. Apart from the weather stations for the military, we managed to ship only 10% of the planned March volume. A couple of clients have asked for refunds if possible. This is entirely normal, and we understand it. It's good that we were able to meet these customer needs.

Furthermore, since the beginning of the year, we haven't demanded any money from our clients for access to the software. Today, we are trying to be as accommodating as possible. We haven't raised the cost of equipment, even though we received new components at higher prices. We understand that the primary goal for every business today is to stay afloat. We are doing our best to help farmers to the maximum extent possible, providing free access to the monitoring system, maintaining favorable terms for equipment, offering significant payment deferments, and more.

"We had to have a conversation with representatives of the USS."

We have an interesting story. In the early days of the invasion, we had to have a conversation with representatives of Ukraine's Security Service (USS) at their initiative. Meteotrek weather stations were being found in the fields, and no one understood what these devices were, raising suspicion. Of course, we provided explanations on behalf of the company and our clients who owned these stations. The situation with the USS was resolved. Furthermore, at our initiative, information about the data from the weather stations was disseminated among USS representatives and other government agencies responsible for security in the country. No more questions or concerns arose, neither for us nor for our clients.

метеостанція, яка знаходиться в м. Гостомель

"We wanted at least some form of support, if not relevant support, from the government."

Regarding financial support from the government, we received nothing. We understand that our clients are the ones who need help first and foremost. If they have the opportunity to support us by ordering equipment on one side and implementing technology in their businesses on the other, it would be beneficial for both.

The government's top priority right now is to protect the country's territorial integrity and the Ukrainian people. However, every ministry has committees, associations, and initiative groups focused on every business sector that must address the problems faced by businesses trying to survive today. We would like to feel the care and support from the government right now, as not all companies will be able to continue providing services to their clients and bearing responsibility for them. Many businesses will come to a standstill and disappear.

"Morale has grown stronger. People are slowly recovering. After our victory, Ukrainians will reprofile themselves as builders of the state."

In the first 30 days of the war, there were significant changes in Ukrainian society. On one hand, it became clear that we would stand and win. On the other hand, the pressure from the occupiers will persist in our country for a long time. However, no one has the right to hang their head. Morale has grown stronger. People are slowly recovering. They are beginning to work even more and more efficiently than before the war. Today, everyone understands that this process can be protracted, and we need to support our loved ones, friends, businesses, employees, and the country. And, of course, work and work again for the development of Ukraine. Today, everyone is trying to find new approaches and ways to conduct business.

After our victory, there will be a long period of country recovery. In my opinion, international support will be even more significant. Ukrainians will not just rebuild the state; they will build a new country with a new society, a new vision, a new national idea, and, in general, with new strength. We are a very strong country, and I have never had any doubts about that personally. Ukraine will win 100%! Unfortunately, the cost of our independence can be extremely high.

"There are people in the company who have never been to a bomb shelter, and there are those who track every air raid siren."

Life during wartime is changing in all spheres, and the job market is no exception. Firstly, 80% of our employees are still not in the capital of Ukraine. However, during the quarantine period, we honed our skills in remote work, and today, many companies are functioning the same way. The majority of our work processes at Meteotrek can be supported remotely. The key is having stable mobile and internet connections.

Right now, we are trying to raise our customer service standards to the level of January-February this year as quickly as possible. We respond promptly to requests and provide support. We plan to gradually restore work in the office in the near future. However, not everyone can return to their workplaces. Some people in the company have never been to a bomb shelter, while others track every air raid siren. Sometimes, we have to ship equipment from someone's home after configuring the hardware and then send it to the customer through a courier service.

As for new employees, we had several vacancies open that involved training and office work. In the two months of the war, we were able to hire only one person, and another candidate is currently undergoing an internship. It's impossible to do this job well only remotely because our products have a hardware component. We currently explain everything to the person in simple terms, but we are trying to integrate them into the company's work even under these circumstances.

"We need to be flexible in any business to survive. Nowadays, every business faces various demands and new realities. People who want to make money find opportunities and don't wait for help.

We have encountered new challenges coming from our state and our defenders. The company responded as quickly as possible to requests, even though production wasn't running. We're pleased that we could help the Armed Forces in this way.

Regarding our plans: we were planning to launch two pilot projects from March to May. One in partnership with the Ministry of Agrarian Policy of Azerbaijan and their Center for Innovation. For now, we've put the work in this country on hold. The second project is about to start in Poland in partnership with the Institute of Agriculture and our local representatives. But as long as the country is at war, we're looking for other rational ways to use our resources.

"The best development in the war for Ukrainians is the collapse of Russia."

I believe that the war with Russia didn't start on February 24, 2022, or in 2014, or even in the early 2000s. This war has been going on throughout the entire existence of our country. We are constantly trying to be destroyed. Ukraine has experienced genocides one after another. Throughout our lives, we have faced restrictions and pressure from Russia. Even if Putin dies, even if the Russian government changes, the attempts to destroy Ukraine will not end.

In my opinion, the best outcome of the war for Ukrainians is the collapse of Russia. If every country returned its historical lands that Russia unlawfully took, Russia itself as a country would cease to exist. Living there is impossible; it's a place of poverty. There's no development, especially for young people. That's why they run from there; they want to kill us and take everything because they are destitute. But good will triumph over evil, and the world will dispel the darkness."

This material was prepared with the support of USAID AGRO, executed by Chemonics.

Source: AGGEEK