1. Origin of Businesses
Prolog Implementation Center (CV Prolog),
Protek Implementation Center (CV Protek),
Metatek Soviet-Swiss Joint Venture.
On May, 26, 1988, the Supreme Soviet of the USSR adopted the Law № 8998-XI "On Cooperation in the USSR".
In September of the same year I was supposed to enter a postgraduate program at the Computing Center of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (40, Vavilov St., Moscow). Everything was settled there by that time: an interesting topic, a cool postgraduate research advisor (Vladimir Khachaturov), preparations were well under way and so on.
However, for some reason I got involved in cooperative businesses.
Deputy chairman of the regional executive committee (who was using my wife's services) helped us to register a cooperative quickly and easily. Moreover, it was my wife who provided a startup capital needed to start a business – she sold her own house. My wife was a top fashion designer and dressmaker. At first we were planning to make her an owner of our coop. But we ended up by registering the “Prolog Cooperative Implementation Center at the All-Union Society of Inventors and Efficiency Experts”. This way we tried and, by the way, succeeded in hiding the word "cooperative" considered a bad word at that time. As a result the word was excluded from the company's stamp and headed papers (obligatory for that moment) and the name of the enterprise got the following name: “Prolog Implementation Center (CV Prolog) at the All-Union Society of Inventors and Efficiency Experts (VOIR) of the USSR”
My childhood friend Mikhail Pashuk worked at one of the institutes of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. As soon as he heard of our coop, he asked for a PC for his laboratory.
Well, actually it was what determined our future business area. We were the first to bring computers, 24-pin printers (it was super cool!), then photocopiers (a true revolution!) and laser printers (just a miracle!) to our town.
I had to fly to Moscow and back all the time, sometimes a few times a week. Finally we decided to open a branch of our coop in Moscow. We couldn't do without partners. I chose Grigor Khachaturov (my fellow student from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology) for this purpose. Grigor was a military man at that time (he worked at a military SRI). Grigor liked the idea at once, he was quite a smart guy. However, Grigor specified that I had to get his best friend Vadim Yakunin involved in the venture as well. Vadim was finishing his postgraduate study at MIPT. The deputy director position at a factory in Zelenograd outside Moscow was already waiting for him as well as a three-room apartment (which meant high appreciation of a specialist for that moment) he was going to move his wife and two young daughters to. That is why Vadim had to think twice before accepting a proposal to work in an unknown coop. But Grigor was a talented persuader.
Both Grigor and Vadim were talented guys, so they showed weighty results from the very beginning. They started involving other guys from MIPT right away.
However, the main problem we had to solve was finding a way to banks.
I was lucky to meet and make friends with Vladimir Salamandra. He was a chief operating officer at the State Bank of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic at that time. Vladimir provided us with an opportunity to convert any amount of money into cash (which was an essential possibility for the moment) and to get nearly any loan we would need.
So, thanks to all of these components: the startup capital (made on my wife's house sale), the talented team (Grigor, Vadim, the guys from MIPT), access to banks (Vladimir Salamandra), non-competitive conditions in the market, we could start a business in nearly any area.
It is what we actually did.
By late 1989 “CV Prolog” helped us to make decent money for that time. As a result we bought cars, improved our living conditions a lot, got freedom of movement around the world required for our business and, what is most important, we got the opportunity to deliver extensive projects.
In 1989 and 1990 the Council of Ministers of the USSR issued the decrees on international joint ventures (between Soviet and foreign companies), joint-stock companies (AO) and limited liability companies (OOO).
We were among the first who took advantage of the opportunity to register the following companies:
Metatek Soviet-Swiss Joint Venture and
Protek Implementation Center (CV Protek).
Our shares in Protek were distributed as follows: 25% owned by Georgii Havboshin (my son Oleg' godfather), 25% belonged to Grigor Khachaturov, 25% - Vadim Yakunin and 25% were mine.I chose to focus on “Metatek” and leave “Protek” to Grigor and Vadim. Unfortunately I don't remember what happened to the shares of mine and Georgii Havboshin. As far as I remember, we've never formalized it.
Working in Prolog, Metatek and Protek companies was a very interesting period I've got an extremely useful experience from. I keep my fondest memories of all those moments.What a pity we've got out of touch.
Grigor: Do you remember your promise to write a memoir on "how Sanya (Alexander) has radically changed lives of ours (mine in particular)"? You've always been a man of your word. When are we going to see your book?
And I hope you still remember that Prolog cooperative was funded by Zina's house sale while Protek was founded on the money made by Prolog. Needless to say, Vladimir Salamandra played one of the key roles in our venture, not to take from the rest of participants' merits. Well, Grigor, I'm looking forward to your promised memoir.
@Mikhail: maybe you have no idea you did, while I have partially forgotten (shame on me) what a great role you've played in our destiny and destinies of all the above companies. As we know, many business of that time have developed on computer trading. But for your first request to get you a PC as well as the following order from you (for another lab), we would have hardly started the business. Mikhail, thanks a lot. Hats off to you.
@Zina: but for the money you made on your house (at 11, Schmidt St.) sale and your initiative to start a coop, we would have never started a business at all.
Everything is so interrelated in this life.