FastForward has published accounts for the year ended 31 March 2016. This has been a transformative year for the company as it adopted a new investment strategy. The net assets of the Company at 31 March 2016 were £10,277,000 (2015: £463,000), equal to 7.85p net assets per Ordinary Share (2015: 1.69p net assets per Ordinary Share). The share price increased during the period by 137% from the 31 March 2015 price of 6.5p to 15.375p per Ordinary Share at 31 March 2016.
The Company has moved from holding no strategic investments at the start of the year to a position of holding seven strategic and exciting investments at the year end which, they believe, have the potential to deliver substantial returns to shareholders. The statement says these investments are all characterised by their ability to disrupt markets through the innovative use of technology whether in the Educational Technology space (Vemo Education, Inc (“Vemo”) and Vested Finance, Inc (“Schoold”)), blockchain technology (SatoshiPay Limited (“Satoshipay”) and Factom, Inc (“Factom”)), biotech/healthcare (Intensity Therapeutics, Inc (“Intensity Therapeutics”) and The Diabetic Boot Company Limited (“DBC”)) or media and content (Yooya Media (formerly, Entertainment Direct Asia Limited) (“Yooya”)).
Intensity Therapeutics is a product development biotechnology company whose mission is to greatly extend the lives of patients with cancer. The Company is using its proprietary DfuseRxSM platform technology to create novel immune-based therapeutic products for a new and emerging field of cancer treatment known as in situ vaccination. Its lead product INT230-6 has demonstrated remarkable activity in multiple animal cancer models. The drug must be made meticulously, analyzed properly, released appropriately and documented correctly to assure acceptability to the US Food and Drugs Administration (the “FDA”). A potent drug is critical to treating patients successfully. The manager says he has spent time with the Intensity team and knows they are proceeding expeditiously, but believes it would be unwise to hurry the manufacturing development or take shortcuts and therefore expects that the first clinical trial of the product will commence in early 2017.
Diabetic Boot Company, which trades under the name “Pulseflow”, has developed a new form of diabetic friendly footwear with integrated offloading capabilities and the patented Pulseflow technology which aids in the promotion of blood flow and improved circulation in one product. DBC received clearance from the US FDA in December 2015, and since then has been putting into place the systems needed to operate there and obtaining the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service (“CMS”) and state-by-state approvals needed to begin selling the product under the name of their US subsidiary. A new US sales office and storage facility in Cleveland, Ohio is fully operational with all the quality, inventory control and billing systems that are needed for the Company to trade as a Durable Medical Equipment (“DME”) supplier. Approval to sell has been achieved for the majority of US States already. The result of the audit by CMS is expected shortly and a favourable outcome will allow sales to commence in the second quarter of 2016 to Medicare and Medicaid patients in the US.
SatoshiPay Limited – the emergence of Machine-to-Machine and the Internet-of-Things, as well as the rising demand for audio and video streaming services, all create a need for near-instant, micro-amount settlement mechanisms. The growing adoption of ad-blocking on both the consumer and ISP level is forcing online publishers to move away from ad-based business models. SatoshiPay offers the solution to these needs. With its first-mover advantage, SatoshiPay is in a strong position to capture and defend a substantial market share. While there are competitors in the market, none provide the same disrupting technological approach to the monetisation method as SatoshiPay, which is based on cutting-edge blockchain technology, allowing for cheaper, faster, and more secure payment services.
SatoshiPay launched the beta version of its product in the first quarter of 2016 and is now working to validate and scale the business model. They are working to successfully complete a joint venture project with Visa Inc, through its innovation department Visa Europe Collab, which will further the mainstream adoption of its product. Key objectives for Satoshipay in the next 12 months are to identify and exploit the market opportunities for the nanopayment technology and gain substantial traction in the developer communities with the open API platform.
Factom Inc’s Blockchain technology secures data for large private and public organizations by publishing encrypted data or a cryptographically unique fingerprint of the data to Factom’s immutable, distributed ledger. This immutable data serves as a “proof of existence” and source of truth for all future business processes. Factom is an irreversible publishing engine (write once, never erase). Factom removes the need for blind trust by providing precise, verifiable, and immutable audit trail. Factom reached more than 150,000 entries in the Factom network by the end of 2015 and continues to show the product to large enterprise potential clients. In February, Factom announced it had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding Agreement (“MOU”) with a Chinese partner iSoftstone to provide business advice and technical knowledge to help shape a smart city solution and to provide data storage, auditing and verification for several regions in China. The manager has spent time with the Factom team in Dallas and knows that they are market leaders in their niche field.
Vemo Education, Inc works with higher education institutions and their affiliates in the USA to effectively design and implement unique alternatives to traditional debt-dependent education finance options. During the year Vemo announced that it was providing technical advice to Purdue University to research ISAs – agreements in which investors front a student’s money for college in exchange for a percentage of the student’s post-graduation income. Just after the year end, Vemo announced that it had entered into a contract with Holberton School to oversee its tuition pricing and payment processes.
Yooya Media (formerly Entertainment Direct Asia) is one of the first digital networks of its kind in China built specifically to connect and unify the three linchpins of the online video market in China: rights owners, distribution platforms, and brand constituents. Yooya has been instrumental in helping content producers monetize China’s fragmented online video market by providing a single platform for content distribution, rights management, and advertising solutions. Yooya brings together many key components essential to the equation, including licensing at scale, automated ad sales, consolidated data & analytics, and dramatically simplified content distribution. To do this, they have assembled a one-of-a-kind team that combines unique China-centric technology expertise, a strong solutions-oriented focus, and decades of experience in licensing, rights, and content management in both Asian and Western contexts.
At the year end, Yooya announced that it has now achieved over four billion lifetime views, with more than 2.75 billion added in the last seven months of the year. The combination of an increasing number of distribution partners and a growing stream of compelling new content on the platform drove this astounding 25% month-over-month growth. This growth reflect the exploding popularity and enormous power of online video in China, but more importantly for rights owners and advertisers, it means that finally there is a viable managed platform on which to build better monetization and more effective video-based advertising.
Vested Finance, Inc (“Schoold”) transforms college and career planning by using technology to educate, inform and inspire users about their prospects for a successful future. Schoold is a big-data driven college and career counsellor mobile app with proprietary technologies that exploit leading data science. As a mobile app, Schoold owns and maintains all aspects of content and user experience while benefitting from increased utility among its target student demographic. Schoold features the tools and resources that it believes are most important to users including college, major and career discovery, individualised matching, predictive admissions chances, and financial aid support. Schoold’s customised interface narrows the universe of college and career data to a manageable, relevant amount of information that can be easily navigated, explored, and outcomes assessed.
Schoold’s app was launched towards the end of the year and by year end the Company had surpassed 500,000 downloads.
FFWD : FastForward reports on transformative year