What is the name of your organization?
Is your organization registered as 501(c)(3) status with the IRS?
In what city, town, or region and state is your organization headquartered?Miami, FL, USA
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address? [Select up to 2]
What is the name of your solution?
What is your solution?
MAJOR Plan is an innovative tech-enabled business plan builder designed to empower minority and socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs (SEDI) in undercapitalized communities to succeed via a user-friendly tool guiding them through the business planning process. Through MAJOR Plan, entrepreneurs receive personalized guidance tailored to their specific needs, with step-by-step planning and data-driven insights from MAJOR's extensive resources. It fosters collaboration with other new entrepreneurs through real-time tools, connecting start-up business owners with mentors and advisors to build a strong support network.
The platform includes an intuitive financial planning module, empowering entrepreneurs to create realistic projections and assess funding needs. Utilizing advanced technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning, MAJOR Plan simplifies complex concepts and provides customized recommendations. Accessibility is a priority with cloud infrastructure, ensuring entrepreneurs can access their plans from anywhere, with robust data security measures to safeguard sensitive information.
MAJOR Plan's design is centered around the needs of its users. It undergoes thorough user research, iterative design, and an empathy-driven approach to promote inclusivity and accessibility. The platform is designed so that all users, regardless of their background or proficiency, can easily navigate and benefit from its features.
MAJOR Plan enables to succeed beyond the concept, planning and launch phases to robust operations and expansion in years 3-5. MAJOR Plan also provides entrepreneurs with 1-on-1 mentoring sessions with program facilitators and other MAJOR staff, allowing participants to access individualized encouragement and training to address specific concerns.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
The core technology powering MAJOR Plan, our innovative business plan builder, is a comprehensive suite of cutting-edge technologies carefully integrated to deliver a seamless and user-friendly experience for minority and socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs (SEDI). Leveraging these technologies enables us to provide personalized guidance, data-driven insights, and real-time collaboration features to empower entrepreneurs in their business planning journey.
- Cloud Infrastructure: MAJOR Plan operates on a robust cloud-based infrastructure, ensuring accessibility from anywhere with an internet connection. This cloud architecture allows users to access their business plans and collaborate in real-time, whether they are at their office, home, or on the go. Cloud technology also enhances data security and reliability, as information is securely stored in remote data centers with regular backups.
- Natural Language Processing (NLP): We have implemented NLP algorithms to enhance the user experience by simplifying complex concepts and jargon. NLP allows MAJOR Plan to understand and analyze natural language input, making it easier for entrepreneurs to interact with the platform using everyday language. It also enables the platform to deliver personalized recommendations and suggestions tailored to each user's specific needs and goals.
- Machine Learning (ML): ML algorithms are at the heart of MAJOR Plan's data-driven insights. By analyzing vast amounts of data collected through user interactions and research, ML helps us identify patterns, trends, and correlations to offer valuable business insights and actionable recommendations. As entrepreneurs engage with the platform, ML continually refines its suggestions to provide more accurate and relevant guidance.
- Real-Time Collaboration Tools: To foster a strong support network for entrepreneurs, MAJOR Plan integrates real-time collaboration features. Through instant messaging, video conferencing, and document sharing capabilities, entrepreneurs can easily connect with mentors, advisors, and team members. This collaboration ensures that entrepreneurs receive timely feedback and guidance, ultimately improving their business plans.
- Intuitive Financial Planning Module: At the core of MAJOR Plan is a powerful financial planning module that incorporates advanced algorithms to perform financial modeling and forecasting. By automating complex calculations, entrepreneurs can create realistic financial projections, assess funding needs, and evaluate the financial viability of their business ideas with ease.
- User Analytics: To continually enhance the user experience, we leverage user analytics to track user behavior and engagement. This data-driven approach allows us to identify barriers/challenges, user preferences, and areas for improvement, enabling us to optimize the platform's design and functionalities.
- Accessibility and Inclusivity Features: Human-centered design is integral to MAJOR Plan, and we employ technologies that enhance accessibility for all users. This includes features like text-to-speech for individuals with visual impairments, multilingual support, and user-friendly interfaces for those with varying levels of technological proficiency.
In summary, MAJOR Plan's core technology is a sophisticated fusion of cloud infrastructure, NLP, ML, real-time collaboration tools, intuitive financial modeling, user analytics, and accessibility features. These technologies work harmoniously to provide personalized guidance, data-driven insights, and a collaborative environment, empowering minority and SEDI entrepreneurs with the resources they need to create successful business plans and thrive in their ventures.
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?
A new application of an existing technology
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Who does your solution serve, including demographics, and how does the solution impact their lives?
MAJOR Plan serves minority-owned businesses, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI) denied access to resources, opportunities, and support needed to realize entrepreneurial goals. These marginalized/underserved communities have limited access to capital, business development programs/opportunities, business education, mentors, and networks. SEDI entrepreneurs struggle with the complexities of entrepreneurship and fail to succeed beyond the first year at higher rates than ethnic/racial majorities. Demographics show:
- -10% of entrepreneurs are Black
- -30% of angel investors at venture capital firms are African American and Hispanic/Latino American, or women
- 12-28% of startups are women-owned
- 14.5% of venture capital-backed startups are women-owned
- 20% more African American-owned firms fail than non-African American-owned firms
MAJOR’s nationwide target populations are diverse in terms of age, educational achievement, ethnicity/race (African American, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, immigrants, LGBTQIA, Native American, and other minority communities), gender and income/resources:
- 100% people of color
- 100% small business
- 3% Asian/Pacific Islander
- 40% LGBTQIA+
- 66% economically disadvantaged
- 7% Hispanic/Latino
- 70% pre-venture and start ups
- 70% women
- 83% African American
To ensure full understanding of collective and individual needs, MAJOR utilizes comprehensive research including focus groups, interviews and user surveys to assess individual barriers, goals and knowledge/skills. This qualitative/quantitative approach ensures custom solutions for individual needs and was core to development of MAJOR Plan to acquire feedback on platform features and user-friendly functionality to ensure alignment with users’ requirements.
MAJOR Plan’s solution to SEDI include:
- Building strong support networks to connect entrepreneurs with mentors and peers
- Enhancing success through accessibility, inclusivity, and personalization
- Facilitating access to capital through creation of comprehensive, detailed, high-quality business plans which increase potential for funding from investors and lenders
- Utilizing data and financial modeling to empower informed decision-making
Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.
MAJOR Plan aligns with the Challenge by addressing the gaps in business development and growth, and economic equity which exist between society at large marginalized/underserved entrepreneurs, and specifically targeting barriers to and access to necessary resources including business development and financial readiness programs, mentors and networks. The expansion in small business creation since 2021 (e.g., 5.4 million applications for new businesses has created a need for high-quality, high-value training to support the entrepreneurial success of SEDI entrepreneurs in undercapitalized communities through business development knowledge/skills which promote the resiliency necessary to grow beyond the concept to robust operations and expansion in years 3-5.
MAJOR Plan aligns with the Challenge by utilizing technology-based solutions, specifically a business plan builder MAJOR designed to support minority entrepreneurs and underrepresented founders. Through this platform, SEDI entrepreneurs gain access to user-friendly tools for a successful business planning process including personalized guidance and data-driven insights, enabling better financial preparation and loan acquisition. Additionally, MAJOR Plan fosters collaboration by connecting entrepreneurs with mentors, empowering them to build a strong support network for their business development and procurement needs.
MAJOR Plan aligns with the Challenge by enabling SEDI entrepreneurs to succeed through better:
- Financial readiness planning – assess assets and credit, evaluate loan-to-debt ratio, understand the cost of growth
- Support Scaling – back-office support and mentors for hiring, legal advice, and resources for mergers and acquisitions
What is your theory of change?
MAJOR’s theory of change is based on the premise that empowering small business owners from minority communities with the necessary resources, support and training leads to increased financial readiness and sustainable growth, resulting in long-term positive economic and social outcomes.
- Activities – MAJOR
- Provides a technology platform providing financial assessment tools, loan preparation guidance, and access to viable funding sources
- Facilitates connections between business owners, back-office support and mentors
- Provides legal advice, hiring strategies, and resources for mergers and acquisitions
- Conducts ongoing user research to improve MAJOR Plan to meet evolving needs of SEDI entrepreneurs
2. Outputs – Small business owners:
- Access MAJOR Plan's financial assessment tools and acquire increased understanding of assets, credit, loan-to-debt ratio, etc.
- Adopt hiring strategies to support scaling
- Connect with mentors and support networks for collaboration and knowledge sharing
- Receive legal advice and resources for mergers and acquisitions
3. Outcomes – Small business owners:
- Access back-office support, mentors, and strategic planning to scale for success
- Economic empowerment provides income/revenue generation, increased wealth-building and job creation
- Increase financial readiness for loan acquisition and viable funding sources reducing financial barriers to growth
- Impact their communities through increased economic output, job creation and increased wealth-building
Our theory of change is supported by ongoing user research, feedback from entrepreneurs who have successfully utilized MAJOR Plan, and third-party research on the impact of mentorship, strategic planning, and access to resources on small business growth. Utilizing the data and feedback generated through this research MAJOR continuously evaluates and updates MAJOR to ensure our activities directly serve the desired outcomes of our target population.
MAJOR Plan's holistic approach to financial readiness and support scaling provides a measurable positive impact in solving SEDI entrepreneurs’ lack of access to resources and growth opportunities. Our commitment to providing a user-friendly and inclusive platform, coupled with the evidence supporting the effectiveness of our approach, strengthens our theory of change and drives our dedication to making a lasting difference in the lives of our target population.
What is your solution’s stage of development?Prototype: A solution that is building and testing its product, service, or business model.
What is your organization’s stage of development?Growth: A registered 501(c)(3) organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth and has a proven track record with an annual operating budget
How many small businesses does your solution currently serve?
As of the current state, MAJOR serves the following numbers of individuals:
1. Economically marginalized/underserved minority communities: 50
2. Minority-owned businesses: 150
3. Entrepreneurs who self-identify as socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI): 100
According to MAJOR's 2022-2027 strategic plan, there is an anticipated expansion by 2027, leading to the following projected numbers:
1. Economically marginalized/underserved minority communities: 250
2. Minority-owned businesses: 1000
3. Entrepreneurs who self-identify as socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI): 500
Furthermore, the Challenge Award funding will enable MAJOR to extend its impact in the following year:
1. Economically marginalized/underserved minority communities: 25 additional communities
2. Minority-owned businesses: 100 additional businesses
3. Entrepreneurs who self-identify as socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI): 50 additional entrepreneurs
In summary, MAJOR's current and projected reach is designed to directly and meaningfully affect the success rates of minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs from economically marginalized/underserved minority communities, with the potential to make a significant impact in the coming years through its suite of distinct business development training initiatives and programs.
How do you define the community you serve, and who are its stakeholders?
The 50 communities in which MAJOR currently has a presence are marginalized/underserved minority-majority communities, which are home to at-risk/underserved minority-owned businesses, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI) lacking access to capital, business development programs/opportunities, business education, mentors, and networks.
The key decision makers in these minority communities, with whom MAJOR works to develop collaborative relationships, includes banks, business owners, chambers of commerce, community-based organizations, ethnic/racial majorities, faith-based organizations, and local government.
MAJOR’s organizational strategies are determined by MAJOR leadership with valuable inputs from our minority communities and SEDI entrepreneurs, relevant stakeholders, and reviews of available data/research.
Stakeholders in MAJOR’s minority-majority communities, and MAJOR’s programming include: academia, banks, business owners, chambers of commerce, citizen associations, community development groups, community-based organizations, economic development organizations, environmental organizations, ethnic/racial majorities, faith-based organizations, government, investors, local community members/public, neighborhood organizations, non-governmental organizations, SEDI entrepreneurs and employees, and trade associations.
How do you build trust within the community your organization serves and among small business owners?
MAJOR builds trust by actively listening to the needs of marginalized communities and small business owners. Our diverse team, reflecting the community we serve, establishes relatability. We employ a mix of direct engagement, social media (e.g., Instagram, Twitter), webinars/workshops, and traditional media (newspapers, radio). These approaches ensure outreach to every current and potential socially and economically disadvantaged individual (SEDI) entrepreneur.
MAJOR's connections with local stakeholders, such as academia, banks, chambers of commerce, and faith-based organizations, enrich our network. These methods are chosen for their effectiveness in acquiring local context, raising awareness, and beginning the network-building process. The aim is to create a community-driven, comprehensive strategy that addresses the unique challenges faced by SEDI entrepreneurs, thereby fostering trust and meaningful connections.
What are your impact goals for the current year and the next five years and how will you achieve them?
Our impact goals for the current year and the next five years are centered on fostering transformational changes in the lives and entrepreneurial journeys of minority-owned businesses and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SEDI) through our comprehensive business development training initiatives/programs.
In 2023, our immediate goals are to continue expanding and enhancing all 10 of our current MAJOR initiatives/programs. We aim to engage with and provide services to 100 new economically marginalized/underserved minority-owned businesses.
To achieve these goals, we have a multi-faceted strategy in place:
1.Innovation and Flexibility: We'll create new MAJOR initiatives/programs that respond to evolving economic cycles, trends, and the specific needs of SEDI entrepreneurs. This adaptability ensures our offerings remain relevant.
2. Technology Enhancement: We'll expand and update MAJOR Plan features and functionality to provide more comprehensive and effective support for our clients.
3. Partnership Expansion: We'll grow our network of collaborators, partners, and stakeholders. This collaboration will increase the data, knowledge, skills, and services/support available to our clients.
4. Replication: We're planning to launch 50 state-based MAJOR "chapters" to establish a stronger local presence. This approach allows for better engagement, interaction, and customization based on local needs.
5. Scaling: We'll significantly increase the scope and size of MAJOR's operations by 2028, targeting a 500% increase in service delivery. This scale-up will allow us to reach and impact even more businesses.
By pursuing these strategies, we aim to achieve transformational change not only in the lives of our direct clients but also in the communities they serve.
Why are you applying to Truist Foundation Inspire Awards?
We are applying to the Truist Foundation Inspire Awards because we believe it aligns perfectly with MAJOR's mission to empower marginalized and underserved communities, particularly minority-owned businesses and SEDI entrepreneurs. The opportunity to partner with Truist Foundation and MIT Solve holds immense value for our organization in several ways.
Firstly, the funding provided by the Truist Foundation would be instrumental in the successful delivery of our MAJOR Plan business plan development platform/program to the target communities we serve. It would enable us to expand our outreach, enhance program quality, and make a more substantial impact on the lives of SEDI entrepreneurs.
Additionally, a partnership with Truist Foundation and MIT Solve would significantly strengthen our network of collaborators and partners. It would provide access to resources, knowledge, and expertise that would accelerate our progress. By joining forces, we can leverage the experience and support of these organizations to build a more sustainable and impactful ecosystem for our beneficiaries.
The Truist Foundation Inspire Awards can help us overcome the barriers we've identified in our application. It addresses the challenges of awareness, particularly ensuring that SEDI entrepreneurs are aware of our programs and mission. The support also tackles funding hurdles, assisting us in establishing stable funding streams to sustain our operations and expand our reach.
This partnership would not only enable us to navigate economic cycles and market trends more effectively but also foster participant persistence by providing the resources and confidence needed to succeed in the face of uncertainties.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
Our primary partnership goal is to establish strong collaborative relationships with key institutions and stakeholders, thereby expanding our reach and maximizing the impact of our programs on minority-owned businesses and SEDI entrepreneurs. We aim to work closely with various entities that share our mission and have a direct influence on the communities we serve.
To achieve these goals, we need assistance in building a nationwide network that includes community groups, decision-makers, and stakeholders, spanning diverse sectors such as academia, banking, business owners, chambers of commerce, community- and faith-based organizations, economic development organizations, environmental organizations, government (county and municipal levels), investors, and trade associations.
The assistance we seek involves connecting us with these entities, facilitating introductions, and providing access to relevant resources. Additionally, knowledge-sharing and best practices from experienced partners would greatly enhance the effectiveness of our initiatives. By collaborating with such organizations, we can collectively address the barriers that hinder the success of minority-owned businesses and SEDI entrepreneurs, leading to more resilient and thriving communities.
Leyanis Diaz Gil Founder & Executive Director, MAJOR, INC.