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

“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,, 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, 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.