When Ioterra had originally onboarded the 2Smart team, the horror of the Russian invasion was but a lingering possibility, but nothing prepared us nor the rest of the world what Ukraine would experience those following months.
It was a typical meeting back in January 2022 with the team to discuss how their parenting company, WebbyLab, had created this customizable, IoT-sandbox solution and how it best fit within our growing directory. When we reconvened with the 2Smart team in mid-March via Zoom, it was clear that amongst air strike-warning sirens, teams and their families relocating, and disturbing news that pings from our news notifications – business must go on.
Within our call, the Ioterra team learned more about how 2Smart is a versatile tool for the startup to the enterprise; a versatile tool for testing multiple parts of your prototype’s firmware and mobile app capabilities; and that the team is looking for testers to try out the platform.
To give background to the team behind 2Smart, WebbyLab has been working in the IoT industry for 3 years that started out with just 2 people to grow into the current 25. Their abilities include project management, front/back-end development, QA, marketing and embedded-firmware engineering. The three representatives we had over the phone was 2Smart’s lead marketer, Pavlo Shevtsov; 2Smart’s business director, Natasha Burkovetskaya; and 2Smart’s chief technical director, Yehor Fedorov.
From left: Yehor Fedorov (Technical Director), Natasha Burkovetskaya (Business Director), Pavlo Shevtsov (Lead Marketer)
Can you introduce yourselves?
Pavlo: I have always been passionate about technologies – I built my first device at 13 years old! After I got an education, I looked for career opportunities in connected technologies. I got some skills in digital advertising and worked with prominent Ukrainian artists to build digital promotions and press. Finally, I connected with the guys with 2Smart who were looking for a digital marketer.
Natasha: I’ve worked for WebbyLabs for 6 years starting as a Quality Assurance Engineer. I then moved into a small project as a manager with Yehor. It’s about then that we had developed 2Smart.
Yehor: I’ve been a developer for 6 years – I’ve been working for WebbyLabs for 5 years now. I started as a PHP developer, then Node JS, and then DevOps, but then I got into 2Smart. We started with 2 project managers, and I was the backend developer. It [2Smart] has been established for 3 years now. I’m a big “tech guy” now!
How has your company grown, and what was the initial concept?
Yehor: We had wanted to start with IoT, and enter the smart home industry; it was difficult at the time for non-tech people to understand what they could do to automate the home. We wanted to create a platform to make simple home automation.
From this idea, we made 2Smart Cloud so that anyone could make smart devices by themselves and do home automation. We wanted to create a community for everyone.
Do you just want consumers to download and use, or do you want to connect with other businesses to integrate their products?
Natasha: Our goal is to have one, universal platform where users can automate different devices. For instance, you normally have to download one app to turn on and off your lights in the home; then you have to download another app to lock your doors. With 2Smart, you can use it for a lot of different devices and control all the different systems of your home.
A second goal is that you can test your device on 2Smart. Say you’re not a big vendor and you have a socket you want to test. For DIY users, it’s free. For our vendors, it only costs $50 (per month). You can sell your device to customers, and customers can control it from the 2Smart app. You don’t have to develop a separate application.
Pavlo: To add to that, though this began as a home automation platform, we saw many more opportunities for different applications.
One of our earliest testers used this application to test heat pumps. The customer had the equipment already on market and they successfully performed their functions however, the manufacturer and the users of these pumps identified key issues during operation.
The heat pumps before the integration of 2Smart’s application and ESP32 microcontroller. Photo courtesy of 2Smart.
- The interface for users was difficult to use since users had to go to technical rooms every time they needed to change the pump’s operating regiment.
- The data such as temperature, system pressure, valve position, and other metrics were only obtained by physically connecting to the heat pump controller.
- There was not an established system of remote support or functionality to study and forecast historical data.
2Smart addressed these issues easily since it supports most, modern microcontrollers with the existing SDK. Even if no documentation was available for the existing device, our specialists could have advised on how to update the firmware or could have performed the work for the client. In this case, the heat pumps were equipped with an ESP32 microcontroller. It easily utilized Wi-Fi; thereby, we were able to direct the customer to customize the interface with our pre-prepared (widgets) to connect with the different types of sensors to then store and capture that data into the cloud.
The mobile application that was developed to control the heat pumps. Photo courtesy of 2Smart.
I can say that the 2Smart cloud can support every initiative.
We did research in the beginning and found that there were not a lot of solutions for the MQTT topic structure. We had found the Homie IoT Convention, which dictates how the device can be structured, what sensors can be used, and what data types are supported.
A user’s device can connect to 2Smart’s cloud, web server and web application through an MQTT broker. The user can create the layout of their mobile application and design the UI/UX for their end customer. We have an influx to manage their storage and telemetries for their customers.
Natasha: I can see how there could be two main project types.
As Yehor earlier mentioned, 2Smart can provide all the necessary infrastructure to connect existing products. Suppose a company has an idea for a commercial “smart” product. In that case, we assist with firmware refining, connecting it to our cloud platform, and providing mobile branded applications and additional cloud applications if needed. It tremendously saves costs due to reusing ready-made features as a framework for each project.
Secondly, using our platform as a part of a more extensive integration. 2Smart offers all necessary tools for telemetry collection, IoT device routing, and management, we can integrate those tools for bigger projects. For example, a current user is developing an extensive monitoring system for solar powerplants or a network of remote EV chargers.
A user can integrate our platform to save costs on developing features for connecting, managing, and telemetry collection tools.
Say a startup is launching a product and uses 2Smart to launch their application, what is the support you provide for them?
Pavlo: The main benefit for those startups is to have a smooth start and save money on their development. We can help by defining the schematics and adding the microcontroller to connect to the 2Smart platform; our team is also available to help with the user design and interface of the application.
Natasha: In one of our most favorite use cases, we developed a custom Access Control System. For this project, we developed a market-ready product ensuring full-cycle production. We developed schematics and firmware for the custom-made controllers, set up a production line with quality control, and developed custom web and mobile applications (since most systems on the market were developed in the 90s and early 2000s). When it was delivered to the market, it had commercial success and received good feedback from the customers.
The resulting mobile application and finished devices for the access control system. Photo courtesy of 2Smart.
WebbyLabs and 2Smart are headquartered in Kyiv – how is your team handling the situation in your country?
Natasha: Everyone in our team is in a safe place. Our army is helping, and though we have been struggling “mentally”, we work with it. We have to handle it.
Yehor: Our government said that if any region of Ukraine can work, should. A lot of our team left for the west side of Ukraine. As for me, I’m in the countryside of the Kyiv region. I heard like 4 air missiles in these past 3 weeks, but everything has been fine for the most part.
Natasha: Yeah – sometimes it can be hard to imagine that we’re in a war, but I remember that there are people in a worse situation than me. When we listen to the news, it’s crazy. My family and friends of my family are living under one roof right now and supporting one another.
It’s crazy, but we have to work. The team is highly motivated and we work hard despite everything because we understand the situation.
The 2Smart team working in the headquarters office in Kyiv before the war. Photo courtesy of 2Smart.
The 2Smart team working in their homes during the war. Photo courtesy of 2Smart.
Is there a message you want to share with the rest of our platform?
Yehor: If you want to support Ukraine, invest in the economy. We do know how to get the job done. We just want to live our own lives and make what we believe in. Build partnerships with Ukrainian companies, and that’s a lot to sustain that company and build upon the economy.
Natasha: We can work. We have to fight in this sphere: we have to support Ukraine.
You can also help with spreading the right information. A lot of people in other countries do not understand what is happening. It’s not just a war – it’s terrorism. You cannot imagine what Russian soldiers are doing in our territories. Everyone knows what Russian soldiers have done, but it seems like no one has stopped them for all these years.
Speaking from my experience, I am interested in politics but when I heard about wars in other countries, I didn’t really understand.
Having correct information and spreading the truth is a powerful tool – you can do a lot of things.
Yehor: We are hopeful you will share the information of our team and of Ukraine. When it is over and when we win, everyone will support Ukraine since we need it now and in the future.
Natasha: Truth always wins.
Below are resources and more information regarding not only how to utilize 2Smart for your initiative, but to support Ukraine.
WebbyLab has dedicated a fund to support the Ukranian army and their employees that participate in territorial defense units. You can donate to the Ukranian Army here and also Come Back Alive Foundation.
To learn from first-hand accounts and read records as the war continues, information is being recorded in these news/information outlets:
Learn and access 2Smart’s website & profile listing here: