“I’ve seen thousands of information technology innovations,” said Richard Caruso, “and as an Ernst and Young ‘Entrepreneur of the Year,’ an annual competition judge, creative finance entrepreneur, and developer of Mentorsphere, I review countless executive summaries and business plans. Through this process I’ve encountered probably every variation in business plan templates, formats, technologies, and technical service providers. Unismart Capital Software’s Funding Roadmap Business Plan and Due Diligence Reporting System is a standardized, focused plan development approach and I see it as having the potential to become the next basis for business planning, due diligence, and collaboration.
I look forward to working with Ruth Hedges and the entire PELT100 Pilot Project UnleashPA with the Innovation America team, as we incorporate all of the revolutionary technology provided by www.Mentorsphere.com, www.Fundingroadmap.com, and the Adreamz Institute.”
The Funding Roadmap is setting a new industry standard with their reinvention of the business plan. Ruth Hedges, Unismart Capital Software CEO says, “We realized the limitations of the business planning model, looked at the accelerating social networking environment, and the lights went on!” Now the Funding Roadmap is being promoted by the Intuit Small Business Community, the SBDCNet and Start-up Weekend, whose founders Marc Nager and Clint Nelson are enthusiastic: “Here is an awesome way to collaborate with your peers while aligning your strategy, setting goals and finalizing your vision.” Users are now located in countries around the world.
Back at the turn of the 21st century, during the dot com heyday, the Unismart Capital Software group, then an incubator down the street from Idea Lab in Pasadena CA, was helping entrepreneurs get up and running, and find some initial working capital. In the process of assisting people with their business plans, offerings and infrastructure, they were struck by the limitations and arbitrariness of the generally accepted business planning format
Worse, many creative, passionate idea people didn’t know enough about business to realistically structure their visions, and the people who invested in them didn’t’ know how to properly evaluate the propositions. Business plans themselves were either over-simplified daydreams, or ponderous static tomes built upon dubious suppositions and hard to navigate. Then the bubble burst, leaving a world of would be dot-comers and investors washed out.
By then, the Unismart Capital Software group had started addressing these problems by creating the Funding Roadmap platform, “a vehicle that can serve a variety of passengers,” says Hedges. “Because it’s easy and fast, it helps entrepreneurs at any level of development to create sound, realistic proposals, benchmark their steps and keep it current. Because it’s cloud-based, professionals, partners and mentors can collaborate effectively anytime from anywhere. Because it’s licensable, it can be adopted as a custom branded platform by banks, investors, start-up and business networks and organizations.”
So while big-time investment behavior was speeding us toward the cliff and the fall of 2008, Unismart Capital Software was refining its technology and rendering the old way of doing business planning obsolete.
“Now we find our country held hostage by a paralyzed investment and lending community,” says Hedges, “validating the urgency for a business planning transformation: into a standardized, comprehensive and compliant online reporting system where reviewers and institutions large and small can analyze and process applications for funding much more efficiently.”
According to Raj Date, executive director of Cambridge Winter Center for Financial Institutions Policy, there will be a lending shortfall for small businesses of as much as $250 billion to $500 billion as the economy recovers. Mr. Date projected small businesses will likely begin feeling the crunch by mid-year, and it will last for the next two or three years. “The demand for working capital is going to increase, and it’s exactly at a time when nobody has the finance company or bank capacity to be able to provide it,” he said. Total lending by U.S. banks fell 7.4%, the steepest drop since 1942.
“We’ve seen that investors and lenders can’t efficiently process the demand for capital with old paper and template business plans, which reinforces their tendency to go with people they already know. Or more often with no one at all, crippling innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit necessary for an economic recovery.” says Hedges, ”just because we have the steepest drop in lending since 1942 doesn’t mean we should be using business planning processes like we still live in 1942.”
“But our SBA and GAAP compliant virtual platform changes everything,” Hedges continues. “Now entrepreneurs can build and maintain a live virtual document, they can share it globally, it’s immune to natural or everyday catastrophes like hurricane Katrina or the loss of your laptop, and it’s a green way to conduct the process –no paper.” Funding Roadmap also provides a virtual marketplace where subscribers can post their proposals and stream their passion and excitement in a video elevator pitch, allowing for controlled access, viewable on mobile devices, with the ability to broadcast to (or be discovered by) a global pool of potential investors and partners. Its Due Diligence Report saves many hours of expensive closing time. Hedges adds, “The platform opens up possibilities for funding and collaboration in ways old fashioned business plans could never do and allows us the privilege and honor to bring our technology to organizations across the country and participate in projects like the PELT100’s UnleashPA Pilot Program in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”