“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.”

A Call to Action!

Join our campaign to create a national investment exchange to invest in  American entrepreneurship, innovation, and job creation!

We Americans currently have 3.7 trillion dollars sitting on the sidelines in money market accounts.

Our society should encourage investment in entrepreneurs and innovation in every way possible and provide a fast track system to launch viable new ventures. The road blocks that for too long have prevented access to capital to create sustainable new businesses should be removed.

The 27 million small businesses that constitute the main engine of our economy should be recognized as an entity that’s “too big to fail.” Their high failure rate threatens the survival of our families and communities more profoundly than the banks and insurance companies that have been recently bailed out. Small businesses and start-ups deserve at least the same concern and the same ready flow of capital as the investment banks.

We can no longer wait for conventional forms of capitalization, i.e. small business loans, angel and venture capital, etc., to unfreeze. We are asking you to join us in a national campaign to encourage private investors to power a resurgence of small business in America by backing the creation of new ventures in a new way.

Now is the time to create a virtual marketplace or private investment exchange where entrepreneurs and investors can find each other to make sound, transparent investments in start-ups and small businesses. Such an exchange can itself be transparent in that, like recovery.gov, anyone can view its effectiveness and performance. But unlike  recovery.gov the money invested in the private investment exchange will be  from Americans’  trillions of potential investment dollars now sitting on the sidelines, with a cap on the size of their investments to limit risk.

Using a virtual reporting system such as the Funding Roadmap will provide our society an opportunity to facilitate and encourage sound investment in small businesses like never before, leveling the playing field for access to capital, and helping to create millions of new businesses and jobs. We want to bring ideas and real solutions to bear on our current economic problems, and believe the Funding Roadmap will revolutionize the way small businesses are financed.

Entrepreneurs have always spurred the successive technological revolutions that have driven economic growth. Entrepreneurship is the essence of the free enterprise system because the creation of new businesses gives a market economy its forward momentum. According to a study from the Kauffman Foundation, companies less than five years old have created all net new jobs in the United States since 1980. We need to carefully nurture and revitalize this great job creating machine.
We want to hear from you. Help us get the message out that “millions of very talented people are ready to take on the responsibility of starting new ventures and collaborating with other Americans to create the millions of jobs we so desperately need -if they could just get access to capital.”

How to get involved:

Go to http://www.fundingroadmap.com/marketplace.php Leave a free post with a business idea you have that you would act upon and commit to if you could have access to the funding from this private exchange. List the amount of funding you would need to execute on your part of the American Dream. Or if you know of someone else’s idea that you’d want to partner with, participate in, or help fund, send them a message.

There is power in numbers. If the funding process is changed to broaden access to capital, we will change the results and lead ourselves out of this recession and back into prosperity.

-Mapteam