Unitsky String Technologies Inc. (UST Inc.), which had the name SkyWay Technologies Co. until 2020, announced the completion of the rebranding that began last year. Thus, due to various circumstances, the company returned to its historical name. Among the reasons, there is not only a return to the origins, but also the next, more serious, stage in development. The new brand of the company in English spelling combines the name of the technology with which it all began, and its author's surname. By the way, the Russian-language name of the company has not changed – it is still “String Technologies”. Why was such a decision made? What guided you when choosing the name? These and many other questions were answered by the author of string technologies, the General Designer and Founder of Unitsky String Technologies Inc. Anatoli UNITSKY.
– Anatoli, please tell us what is the reason for rebranding of the string transport developer company?
– Such a decision has been maturing for a long time. When the scales with the number of arguments in favor of rebranding began to noticeably outweigh, the necessary measures were undertaken. There are a number of reasons, including a new stage in the development of our engineering, but not investment, company Unitsky String Technologies Inc, and the desire to reflect its origins in the name. And there is also an acute desire to dissociate from those investment funds whose activities may mistakenly include the functioning of our engineering organization, which has nothing to do with attracting investments carried out around the world using the SkyWay brand.
The brand change is mainly associated with the entry of the SkyWay transport developer company into a new stage of development – into the world market, when it obtained a full–fledged market product in the field of mobility at its disposal. Although the brand change is a conditional concept, since in fact nothing has changed in the company name – just the Russian name “String Technologies” was correctly translated into English with the addition, as is customary all over the world, of the name of the author of the technology and the founder of the company.
Prior to that, the company had been in the stage of a venture project for several years, which was the main reason for bringing the SkyWay investment brand to the forefront. In 2020, Unitsky String Technologies Inc. completed the main part of research and development work on the creation of urban passenger transport complexes with all the necessary structural elements – a string-rail overpass, rolling stock of various capacities, intelligent control system, power supply system, safety and communications, infrastructure of the “second level” (stations, depots, railway terminals, turn-out switches, etc.). Thus, the company has at its disposal the first market product ready for mass implementation abroad, where the operating language in the vast majority of countries.
In 2021, compliance with the requirements of international transport safety standards was confirmed by the certification in the UAE of uSky transport and infrastructure complex and all its structural elements. The certification was carried out by TUV SW (Certification & Standardization). In fact, the company's transition from the “start-up” stage to the “business” stage took place. It was this event that was pointed out during the rebranding, which began in 2019, and was carried out in stages over two years – from 2020 to 2021.
Here is another important reason. Having received a full-fledged commercial product at our disposal and having started working on its promotion and sale, we faced with the fact that there was some confusion in the minds of ordinary people, including our customers. All the companies that contain the word SkyWay in their name have mixed up. In fact, there was an identification of investment funds and our engineering companies that do not attract investments, especially through the crowdfunding or crowdinvesting system. This led to problems.
Everyone knows that the main part of the investment that went to the development of string transport by Unitsky String Technologies Inc. was attracted under the crowdinvesting scheme, through some fund companies independent from the developer company and non-affiliated with it, networks of business angels and enthusiasts who worked within the framework of partner programs offered by fund companies. Such a financing model has demonstrated a high level of efficiency and allowed to pass a long way in technological development and product creation within a short time. However, it has also led to some other consequences, due to the fact that in many countries there is no clear legislative framework for crowdinvesting, which is regarded as an investment mechanism with increased risks. In this regard, the financial regulators of some countries have issued warnings about the possible danger of investing in a number of fund companies that used the word and brand “SkyWay” in their names (First SkyWay Invest Group Limited, Skyway Capital Ltd, Sky Way Invest Group).
The fact of such a warning, of course, does not indicate the dishonesty in the actions of these companies, but it cast a shadow on the SkyWay brand itself, and also negatively affected the brand of the developer of string transport – Unitsky String Technologies Inc., in which the word SkyWay was also present in the English version of its name until 2020. At the same time, I would like to note that our engineering company, where I work as the General designer and Chairman of the Board of Directors, has never had any complaints put forward for all 7 years of existence, and even more so, bans on engineering work and other statutory activities both in the Republic of Belarus and abroad. And we are not engaged in any other activity besides engineering and science.
That's why, we had to abandon the term “SkyWay” due to the unqualified actions of fund companies, especially their representatives in different countries, who used both the term itself and the SkyWay brand, and worked within the framework of the crowdinvesting model of financing the development of SkyWay technologies. At the same time, they repeatedly made reputational mistakes, but these were their mistakes, not ours, and we, as a company, and I personally, as the General designer and author of the technology, have nothing to do with them. In particular, representatives of the funds claimed unrealistically short payback periods for investments, promising that a dollar could be turned into a thousand dollars in a year. Naturally, this is alarming. And neither I nor any of the employees of the developer company have ever stated anything like this. Having carried out the rebranding, we wanted to emphasize this. To emphasize its legal, financial and operational apartness from fund companies that ever existed or exist presently. The most that can be said about them is that they help us, that they are our partners. But we cannot and do not want to be responsible for their methods, which often run counter even to their own interests – the interests of their investors, who certainly expect a speedy distribution of our engineering products on the world market.
– Could you tell us in more detail about the reputational damages associated with the activities of fund companies?
– As I have already said, in addition to the SkyWay transport developer company, the SkyWay brand was used by a number of non-controlled fund companies (hereinafter referred to as funds – note), as well as by individual independent and non-controlled persons within the framework of the crowdinvesting model for financing the development of string technologies. In the course of time, this had a negative impact on the reputation of the SkyWay brand and formed the basis of unfair competitors' unscrupulous information attacks on me personally and on all my projects.
One of the main tools in the information war is the substitution of concepts. Our case is no exception. If crowdinvesting does not have a sufficiently developed regulatory framework in most countries, a perverse conclusion is drawn from this that it is allegedly illegal. Or, at the very least, it is declared that this activity “may be illegal.” Although, in fact, it's not about that at all, but only about the fact that the legislation does not fully cover crowdinvesting. This has huge advantages. In particular, the number of prohibitions and restrictions on investment activity is decreasing. On the other hand, there are also disadvantages. For example, people who do not have high qualifications and knowledge in this field can invest. Someone may want to mislead these people. Therefore, the situation is dual. It has a fairly large field for discussion, it is controversial. But there is nothing illegal in crowdinvesting. Nevertheless, it is precisely the fact that string technologies are invested by funds using this tool that made up the basis of black PR against us. At the same time, due to some historically conditioned blurring of the SkyWay brand, an engineering company was also mixed up in here, although it had nothing to do with crowdinvesting and attracting investments. We don't have investment consultants, agents, and so on working here. This all is not our sphere. We employ engineers, designers, architects, programmers. We are a technological engineering company. I emphasize this once again. In the context of our conversation, this is the main thing.
– What can you say about the new symbolics of Unitsky String Technologies Inc. How did it change?
– Along with the name, the company has changed its logo and corporate identity elements. Although the name has not really changed, only its translation from Russian into English has changed. It has become adequate and relevant to the types of activities that were originally specified in the company's charter. At the same time, the new logo of Unitsky String Technologies consists of two parts: a brand name and a unique graphic spelling of the company name. The sign is formed from two parts – the letter “U”, which is the first letter of the surname of the author of string technologies in transcription in English (Unitsky), and the outlines of the first electric rail car created by the company, which received the international name Unibike U4-621. This is a kind of return to the origins of string technology, second-level transport. So as the company could confidently proceed into the future, people should know about it properly and respect its history well. By the way, even when UST Inc. was called SkyWay Technologies Co., it was still called differently for me in my native Russian, – namely “String Technologies”.
– I would like to continue the topic of returning to the origins of string technology…
– The first string-rail complex of the first generation was built back in 2001 in the city of Ozyory (Moscow region). At that time, a ZIL-131 truck was used as a test module. Its wheels were made of steel and adapted for a string-rail track structure. The company that built that test site was called “Unitsky String Transport”. It turns out that almost two decades after the appearance of SkyWay transport, the company's brand once again combines the name of the technology with which it all began and the surname of its author. Thus, the transition from the "start-up" stage to the "business" stage and the associated rejection of the investment brand were marked by a return to the technology brand, which has historical significance and refers to the surname of a real person with whom the technology is initially associated, unlike the virtual SkyWay, which does not have anything legally or physically particular.
– Anatoli, at the end of the conversation, could you tell us about the current state of affairs in the company?
– The company continues to develop. Every year we increase our production capacity, material and technical sufficiency and, most importantly, we increase the competence of our employees, we continue to develop our engineering, designing, scientific schools. As I have already said, we are now entering the market with our urban passenger complexes. Cargo solutions will be the next. A pre-stressed string-rail overpass (the most difficult and expensive in them) will be exactly the same as in passenger transportation. We have already demonstrated loading and unloading terminals. It remains to make small improvements, and we will be ready to offer these complexes to the market. Then – probably the most difficult and one of the most promising areas – high-speed transport and infrastructure complexes (speeds up to 500 km/h). If everything goes as planned, we will be able to bring them into the world market by 2025.
As I said, this year we launched the first projects. In 2022, it is planned to increase their number to 10. This is a key milestone in the development of our company. We have conducted all the necessary tests and prepared for mass use a modern, versatile and economical transport and infrastructure solution that will change the entire world logistics for the better in the 21st century. With significantly lower infrastructure costs, reduced energy (fuel) consumption and increased transport safety. Our solutions for cargo and passenger logistics provide a high speed and large volumes of transportation (up to 50 thousand passengers per hour), significantly expand the space of transport accessibility with minimal environmental impact.
All the company's activities are highly open and transparent, which is confirmed by a variety of examinations and independent audits. Unfortunately, it is not devoid of “pests”. But they have never been a problem for a good gardener, which, undoubtedly, our team is. This can be judged by the fruits of the “tree” that we grow – innovative developments and solutions that change the world for the better.