This Yes! article
by Stacy Mitchell illustrates ways to fund new businesses that are supported by local communities, but not by their local banks. Some of these entrepreneurs are expanding the envelope of what constitutes friends and family, and coming up with unexpected ways to raise tens of-thousands of dollars. Others are sourcing their supplies from the surrounding area, thereby building synergies and loyalty.

The Funding Roadmap planning platform is the perfect vehicle for sharing an entrepreneur’s vision within an expanded circle of support.


“Give us your fired, your under-funded start-ups, your huddled masses of innovative entrepreneurs yearning for access to capital. The wretched refuse of your economically broken shores. Send us the Twitters, the LinkedIn and Facebook tempest-tossed pioneers fighting to claim their piece of the American dream and let them stake a claim on the Startups Across America map, so we can all walk through the golden door.”    -Ruth E. Hedges (with help from Emma Lazarus) is the first entrepreneurial map of the United States, where startups can stand up and be counted. “As it grows it will detail the number of startups in each state and the funding they need to launch. By highlighting the numbers and listing the actual enterprises seeking funds, we intend to help level the playing field for access to capital,” said Ruth Hedges, CEO of Unismart Capital Software Inc.

Startups Across America

Startups Across America

While spotlighting the innovation, imagination and self determination that abounds among this country’s entrepreneurs, the Startups Across America map and its listings intend to give investors, community leaders, and other finance-related decision makers a keener understanding of the real dollars needed, state-by-state, for these new enterprises to succeed. ”We encourage every startup to register and stake their claim on the map to bring attention to their efforts individually and collectively,” says Hedges.  The interactive map is being launched in response to lean times for start-up capital. Although start-ups contribute profoundly to job creation, the economic meltdown and the resulting recession have dried up seed capital for such ventures.   Hedges hopes the map will inspire wealthy Americans who may never have invested in early stage startups to discover the volume and depth of investment opportunities across the country and to invest as way to contribute to economic recovery.

“While Americans currently have 3.7 trillion dollars sitting on the sidelines in money market accounts, countless brilliant ideas, technology, research and innovation have been squandered for lack of investment, with ongoing consequences for our health, our economy and our society says Hedges, “

we need to encourage investment in entrepreneurs and innovation in every way possible and provide a fast track system to launch viable new ventures.”  ”The Startup America map allows us to see where startups are located, how much capital they need and what they will do with the funding, so investors can find, research and make sound investments. An interactive picture of the entrepreneurial landscape can help to proliferate reality-based economic activity and renewed prosperity for everyone,” says Hedges. It can be argued that the ambition and innovation of our entrepreneurs are keys to rebuilding the nation’s economy. With more than 15 million Americans unemployed and vying for a scarce number of jobs, entrepreneurship is the crucial means for growing our economy  locally and nationally.  It’s one thing to believe in “the American dream,” the challenge is to fund and facilitate it in the real economy.

This project is to encourage private investors to power a resurgence of small business development in America by backing the creation of new ventures. More than one new business is born every minute. In 2009 business startups reached their highest level in 14 years – even exceeding the number of startups created during the peak of the dot-com heyday. Unfortunately the under-funding of too many of these businesses prevents them from getting safely off the ground, resulting in lost innovation, revenue and job creation, a national crisis we are paying for now more than at any other time in our nation’s history.   As Pulitzer Prize winning NY times columnist Thomas Friedman said:

“We owe our young people something better and the solution is not that complicated, although it is amazing how little it is discussed in the Washington policy debates. We need three things: start-ups, start-ups and more start-ups.” “We couldn’t agree more.

So to be able to see who these entrepreneurs are, where they are, and how much capital they need to launch and succeed, we decided to build a digital map showcasing Startups Across America. Now anyone launching a new company in the USA can stake their claim for a piece of the American Dream on the map and broadcast their funding needs to a nation of possible investors,” said Hedges.  The number of start-ups and the funding dollars they are trying to raise will be totaled by state and showcased on the map so everyone can see where the opportunities are and the money is needed. We can no longer wait for or depend on conventional forms of capitalization, i.e. small business loans, angel and venture capital to provide access to capital to get us out of the economic crisis. Last year the number of applicants who got venture or angel capital was shockingly low, and too many great ideas, products and inventions never saw the light of day. We must provide another option.

To achieve a more level playing field for access to capital, wealthy individuals need to take a more active role investing in entrepreneurship and innovation to help rebuild the American economy. But they can’t do that if they don’t know where the need is, where the pioneers are, and how much capital entrepreneurs need to launch and succeed. And we need to remove certain regulatory roadblocks that for too long have limited access to investment.

We hope entrepreneurs everywhere will join our campaign and encourage startups to sign up onto the map as a first step in a new process to create an expanded flow of investment capital and a new way of clearly seeing the promising Startups Across America.

For information contact 877-780-8955

by providing standardization and resources crucial to ensure that new ventures receive the capital they need to launch and succeed

We believe passionately that Funding Roadmap’s cloud-based business planning and due diligence reporting platform is a concrete example of economic problem solving that is vitally necessary to new business formation,long term sustainability and reduction in our carbon footprint. We’re convinced that the transparency and efficiencies inherent in our system will encourage bankers to lend, investors to invest and entrepreneurs to act so that small businesses can once again lead us out of recession and back into prosperity.

Entrepreneurs have always been the driving force of a revolution that is transforming and renewing economies worldwide. Entrepreneurship is the essence of a free enterprise because the birth of new businesses gives a market economy its foundation. According to studies 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 exercise great care and not damage this great job creating machine. Our society, with the support of the government, should encourage new entrepreneurs in every way possible and provide them with a fast track system to launch. And we should remove the road blocks that for too long have prevented access to capital to create sustainable new businesses.

The entrepreneurial process involves all the functions, activities and actions associated with innovating ideas, perceiving opportunities and creating organizations to pursue them. The birth of a new enterprise is not just happenstance and its subsequent success or failure is not a process based on chance. We know it is greatly affected by the creation of a sound and actionable plan and adequate capital to accomplish that plan.

Today the process of new business creation is well understood and many believe that entrepreneurship can be taught. Missing is a standardized method of planning a new venture and a standardized way of marketing it to a world of possible investors -as we have created in the Funding Roadmap. Entrepreneurship has become the fastest-growing subject in business school curriculums, with more than 2500 colleges and universities offering accredited classes or degrees. Ensuring that creative ideas can move easily from universities and government laboratories is critically important. We need to do a better job supporting the new generation of entrepreneurs emerging from institutions and organizations and provide them with systematized tools to fast-track their ideas to the marketplace, and get the financial support needed to execute these new ventures.

There are millions of brilliant and talented people, especially among the 17 million unemployed, who have an urgent need to start new business, who can’t afford to waste time using outdated processes. Funding Roadmap provides crucial knowledge, structure and support that will help them succeed as entrepreneurs.

In order to effectively raise capital from any source, viable new business ideas need a well-constructed, comprehensive business plan. To create an extraordinary plan, new business owners must first organize their thoughts. This is a continuous process that changes as business ideas develop. The appropriate platform for that evolution is ideally virtual, open to collaborators, and available anytime from anywhere. The Funding Roadmap platform embodies that ideal in the service of both the entrepreneur and the funder.

New Companies Translate into New Jobs:

Entrepreneurs are the key to rebuilding the nation’s economy; their optimism and innovation is exactly what our country needs right now. With more than 17 million Americans unemployed and vying for a scarce number of jobs, entrepreneurship is the only means for growing our economy — locally and nationally. By connecting entrepreneurs to a solid network of education and support and leveling the playing field for access to capital, we’ll quickly see new companies emerge from the ashes. And new companies translate into new jobs. It’s one thing to believe in “the American dream.” The question is how to actually facilitate it in the real economy.

The problem and the terrain:

1. There is a $40 billion gap in funding for startup entrepreneurs, even though there is 3.7 trillion dolllars in money market accounts. Imagine if we could close that gap and stimulate the growth of small business in America. We can’t bring back the same jobs we lost over the past few years, but we can create new ones if we improve our system for funding start-ups and expanding small businesses, while encouraging the unemployed to become self-employed.

2. 81% of small-business entrepreneurs raise initial startup funding for their business ideas by borrowing money or raising it from their friends and family, credit cards and personal assets which have now catastrophically decreased, or disappeared. And the under-funding of too many businesses prevents them from getting safely off the ground.

3. Only 1.5% of applicants get venture capital, and very few are able to go after angel capital or conventional small business loans. Even then, access is limited by who you know. Funds end up being distributed in ways that have little to do with the needs of high potential ventures or in the best interests of society, but rather by the interests and whims of the powerful and well-connected.

4. Banks are the decision makers for lending money, and they refuse to loan it even to people with excellent credit. Even when guaranteed by the SBA! Many ambitious entrepreneurs have had their credit damaged in the recent economic storm. If we can re-capitalize bankrupt banks, we should be able to facilitate lending and investing into small businesses without being held hostage by the banking industry.

5. With trillions of potential investment dollars are on the sidelines we have a unique opportunity to level the field while creating millions of businesses and jobs. People are investing in the stock market again, and routinely gamble billions of dollars at casinos and in the lotteries. There are 7 million millionaires in the United States alone as well as a middle class with money in its mattresses. Now is the time to create the a virtual marketplace or national exchange where entrepreneurs and investors can find each other to make sound investments in start-ups and small businesses.

7. Social Media, a powerful form of networked communication, has created the biggest paradigm shift since the advent of the Internet. By 2010 Generation Y will outnumber baby boomers. 96% of Ys belong to a social network. If Facebook were a country it would be the 4th largest in the world. 80% of U.S. companies are using LinkedIn as their primary means to find employees. As a social medium, a Funding Roadmap based reporting system could be the virtual highway on which the new generation of entrepreneurs and investors meet to fund and build new sustainable companies of the future.

8. Small businesses are the backbone of our nation’s economy. In fact, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau, small businesses with less than 100 employees create over 97 percent of all new jobs in America. We must provide a better system to launch new businesses, plan for growth and make sure these expanding new ventures have the adequate funding they need for long term success.

9. As a society we haven’t encouraged investment in entrepreneurship. Nor have we created standardized, transparent systems to promote the creation and funding of new and innovative companies, until now.

The Funding Roadmap solution:

Funding Roadmap is a standardized planning and reporting system in an easy-to-use multiple choice platform to inspire first-time entrepreneurs to dream big and launch new ventures. Our system creates lasting change for new and emerging small business owners. Our virtual collaboration system helps connect entrepreneurs with the expertise, talent, and funding to create successful businesses.

We make it easier for entrepreneurs to get access to capital, whether from their friends and family or small business loans. Our scalable licensing platform creates a fairer way to connect up with angel investors, private equity investors and venture capital firms.

Our SBA and GAAP compliant platform is a standardized planning and reporting system that can be private labeled and incorporated into any and all investment and lending programs. It can be distributed and accessed through any bank or lending institution’s website. It can be used as a training tool at schools and universities, at SCORE and SBDC offices. It’s the perfect deal flow screening tool for investment capital as well. As a standardized business planning tool it can be used to promote ventures from any and all social networks such as Linkedin and Facebook. Information from the report can be accessed from an applicant’s iPhone or Blackberry. Funding Roadmap provides instant global access for review by investors, lenders or FEMA and secure online data storage protects this vital information in case of a fire or natural disaster, allowing access anytime from anywhere and the ability to process emergency loans much faster.

Funding Roadmap is an eco-friendly launch pad that helps entrepreneurs think, organize, collaborate, benchmark progress, post to a virtual market place and “elevator-pitch”, using a video platform. Just imagine the impact the wide dissemination of this kind of system would have on the success rate of new and emerging small businesses. This is a revolutionary and innovative system for a 21st century digital world that will quickly transform the process of getting capital into the hands of entrepreneurs and small business owners who have historically been, and who will continue to the be, the primary creators of jobs in a strong and sustainable economy.

A well-prepared Funding Roadmap is the key for new business owners to collaborate with partners and mentors and teachers and successfully raise capital. In addition, a solid Funding Roadmap presentation will also improve their chance to raise capital throughout the development and life of their new business from any and all sources of capital and is the only the networked online eco-friendly business planning and reporting solution with complete transparency to help achieve the goals of the government, entrepreneurs, investors and lenders alike. Our system improves the speed, responsiveness and accuracy of information across the entire funding industry for both equity and venture capital providers. As Funding Roadmap™ is embraced, we expect to contribute to a new, reality-based economic recovery where great ideas well executed can create an expanding yet stable prosperity.

As during the late 1800s, this is a time of dramatic technological innovation at a crucial time in history. Thousands of inventors and entrepreneurs are striving to create the necessary new world. Just now, unfortunately, we are trying to do it when the credit markets have dried up and diminished capital sources have moved to safety. The government is trying to bolster the financial system, but the business planning formats used to start new businesses or shore up stressed ones are still languishing in the 1900s.

Business Plan and Due Diligence reporting are for all practical purposes, still inscribed on parchment at a time when they most certainly should be provided in a comprehensive, transparent and globally accessible online format. So we built such a cloud-based reporting system, the Funding Roadmap, to markedly improve the odds of financing a small business by providing a fast, affordable, web-based business plan alternative for the millions of Americans willing and able to take the job of economic stimulation into their own hands. This is a timely matchmaking tool for the marriage of capital to new and expanding businesses and it would clearly benefit everyone if our product was included in the tools and technology the Government promotes to the general public in their programs and through the SBAand their resource partners.

27 million small business owners and millions of new businesses yet to come, along with the government, now have access to a standardized online platform to aid the development and funding of their enterprises. With the kind of necessary disclosure requirements included in our GAAP compliant financial statements and facilitated due diligence report and video elevator pitch, investors and lenders will have a world of realistic possibilities at their fingertips, entrepreneurs with great ideas will have access to the global funding community, and everyone will be able to collaborate with each other, with full disclosure and transparency.

While Funding Roadmap multiplies the economic possibilities, it eliminates the need to physically print, handle and convey business plans and proposals in a paper-based format, with obvious benefits for the planet. Funding Roadmap is comprised of an Executive Summary with video player for an applicant’s personal elevator pitch, Business Plan, Numerical Summaries, all inter-linked, and a Due Diligence Report. These reports create a new standard of transparency and comprehensiveness, while at the same time, the extensive use of multiple choice questions makes for a faster, easier process for the applicant. Reports are viewable online at the applicant’s discretion on a marketplace or through Master License Holders’ websites (such as banks, VCs, service providers, business coaches, incubators, accountants lawyers, etc.) This offers a media rich, globally accessible, instantly updatable document that can speed an applicant’s planning, benchmarking, and funding.

Taking Action :

As President Obama said at December’s Job Summit,“It’s worth remembering that every once in a while a small business becomes a big business and changes the world,” the president said. “That’s why it is so important that we help small business struggling to open, or stay open, during these difficult times.”

We were not at the jobs summit but we have a fresh perspective and an actionable plan and product and we want to help.

1. Launch a national clearing house website like the government’s, where entrepreneurs can post their ideas in the Funding Roadmap platform with complete transparency and disclosure so an expanded base of investors can find them and assess their propositions. We envision a virtual venture creation process, where entrepreneurs can showcase their venture, build support around their projects, find and collaborate with new partners, mentors, teachers and others to help these ventures receive the seed capital they deserve and go from idea generation and funding to building viable local and global businesses.

2. It’s time to modernize the paper-based business planning and application formats that hobble the financing of small business. Banks and lenders with limited time for evaluating new prospects are inundated with poorly structured loan presentations. They need the ability to instantly review that data online and trust the information. Banks and other institutions, like FEMA and the SBA, need disaster-proof virtual records to provide continuity in the face of natural disasters like hurricane Katrina. We propose the Funding Roadmap platform as a means of standardizing and safeguarding this data.

3. Ease restrictions that prevent unaccredited investors from investing in startups. We are creating a new socially networked investment platform. The Government can provide an easier pathway for investment in new startups. These investments are frequently hailed as a crucial component of the innovation system and more people need to have have better access to them: too many great ideas are lost because of restricted access.

4. Entrepreneurs need this technology now and we need your help to make these changes a reality. We propose a public/private partnership with our company, like the one the SBA and Congress have with QuickBooks guru Ridgely Evers,(in order to work together to improve upon these issues). Evers’ company has been working with the SBA and members of Congress to tweak the rules that keep private investors out of the loop of the SBA process. The aim is to enlarge participation and transparency. Here is the full story.

The Funding Roadmap’s standardized platform allows everyone concerned with small business financing to benefit from the efficiencies of cloud-based technology. Funding Roadmap is a tool to change the entrepreneurial landscape, help stimulate the economy, provide more equal access to capital and proliferate reality-based economic activity for a renewed prosperity. We share a passion with you for bringing ideas and real solutions to our current economic problems, and believe the Funding Roadmap’s virtual platform will revolutionize the way small business is financed and will help to create millions of jobs going forward. We look forward to working with you.

Ruth E. Hedges, CEO
Unismart Capital Software, Inc.
[email protected]
877 780 8955

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, anyone can view its effectiveness and performance. But unlike 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 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.