NEW YORK (The Street) -- When Amazon (AMZN) was just a start-up in 1994, it was attempting to become the best online seller of books on the nascent worldwide web. Very few people even knew of the potential of the Internet and fewer still recognized AMZN would become one of the Web's greatest purveyors.
Fast forward almost 20 years and you'll find me in Los Angeles interviewing the CEO of micro-cap Research Solutions, which traded on the OTCBB under the symbol RSSS. Peter Derycz is by nature demure, but when he begins to speak about his company, he comes alive with enthusiasm.
The company was formerly known as Derycz Scientific and changed its name to Research Solutions in March 2013. Research Solutions was incorporated in 2006 and is based in Encino, Calif. Derycz says his company is part of the $4.2 billion science, technical and medical information industry (a.k.a. STM Data-Mining). By extension that connects the company to the $1 trillion periodicals industry.
Meeting with me and a few invited others, Derycz obviously loves what he does and is passionate about the company he leads. He explains that RSSS is a leading business-to-business information services and software company that provides scientific, technical and medical information to the global STM industry. "We support both content owners and end-users to help support their marketing, communication and research goals," he explains.
Some of his regular customers are big names, including General Electric (GE), Boeing (BA) and Abbott Labs (ABT). Research Solutions and its wholly owned subsidiary Reprints Desk deliver research information services and software to research-intensive organizations in Life Sciences and a host of other industries. They also have "smaller" customers like universities and law firms, that need specific articles, documents and studies and they need them fast!
That's why Research Solutions created Article Galaxy, its platform to efficiently and legally obtain single copies of full-text papers from scholarly peer-reviewed journals when subscription access does not exist. Article Galaxy also includes capabilities to facilitate literature discovery, management and collaboration.
Research Solutions is so good at what it does it has expanded its customer base to more than 1,000 satisfied clients, from Fortune 500 companies to small entities. In fact, just eight days before my interview with Derycz, on Dec. 6, Reprints Desk was named to the 2013 EContent 100 list of "Companies that Matter Most" in the digital content industry. Selection of the companies for the EContent 100 list falls to a team of judges including editors from Information Today, EContent magazine contributing editors and other industry experts. Other companies included in the 2013 EContent 100 list include Amazon and Apple (AAPL).
Research Solutions, with a market cap of less than $31 million, had $45.5 million in revenue for fiscal year 2013. Its shares have a 52-week trading range from a low of 65 cents to the high of $2.10 reached on Nov.18, 2013. In fiscal year 2013, it reported $1.1 million in adjusted earnings (EBITDA), has no debt and has almost unlimited upside potential in its expansive niche. It closed Monday at $1.76, so it is a penny stock, which can be volatile.
"We've become the Amazon.com of the scientific, medical and technical information," the ebullient CEO told me and others. "Article Galaxy is growing by a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29% year over year."
The "business growth plan" for RSSS includes "new verticals and new markets" in international areas (37% of its business is in Europe, the home of some big players in the medical/life sciences genre like Novartis AG (NVS)). Hearing that, I began to imagine a chart of RSSS stock perhaps 10 or more years from now. If it continues to follow a growth trajectory similar to its corporate "North Star" (I'm referring to AMZN) here's what it just might look like someday -- though admittedly far-fetched in its current state.
I wonder how many investors in late 2002 or early 2003 ever dreamed that 11 or 12 years later AMZN would be trading for more than $400 a share? Today's investors in companies like Research Solutions would be thrilled if someday the stock tops $100. Is that realistically possible?
If you use your imagination and this amazing little company keeps on track, chugging along, acquiring new technologies and expanding into lucrative sectors, yes, perhaps that is possible...someday!
Remember: Any stock below $5 a share is referred to as a "penny stock" and should be considered suitable for speculators and investors with an appetite for long-shots and aggressive risk. Also keep in mind, many of today's great companies started as penny stocks.
At the time of publication the author had a position in AAPL.
This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.