Futurpreneur Business Plan Writer
Futurpreneur Canada (www.futurpreneur.ca) has been fueling the entrepreneurial passions of Canada’s young enterprise for two decades. They are the only national, non-proﬁt organization that provides ﬁnancing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39. Their internationally recognized mentoring program hand matches young entrepreneurs with a business expert from a network of more than 2,800 volunteer mentors.
The Business Plan Writer is a free online interactive tool provided by Futurpreneur that offers templates to prospective entrepreneurs. It allows them to successfully develop a business plan using a combination of predefined fields and the user’s own data and custom sections which can then be exported. In keeping with Futurpreneur’s overall plans for technology updates, the Business Plan Writer tool needed to be modernized and brought in line with the organization’s environment. Futurpreneur needed to ensure that the tool was compliant with AODA requirements, that it was mobile friendly and that it also offered the same sign-on experience as the portal application. At the same time, they wanted to remove some of the less popular functions and streamline the platform to make it more user-friendly.
The EUM Solution
It was decided to build the application on the powerful ASP.NET Core 2.0 platform. Building in ASP.NET Core 2.0 offers several advantages. It is one of the fastest web frameworks currently available. It is also a lean and modular framework which makes development and maintenance easier. Furthermore, ASP.NET Core 2.0 supports cross-platform development and deployment of applications on Windows, macOS, and Linux.
The Business Plan Writer website was developed to be mobile friendly thanks to Twitter Bootstrap. Each section of the Business Plan Writer is a series of HTML snippets that are uploaded to the solution. This greatly simplifies the process of updating the offering at any time, allowing Futurpreneur staff with basic HTML knowledge to easily create and edit Business Plan Writer sections.
The application allows users to start with the base template. They can add or remove sections, drag and drop to change the order of sections and create custom sections to make the plan truly their own. This functionality is provided by jQuery-UI and users’ navigation preferences are stored as JSON in the BPW database. Users can export the plan to Word or PDF during the process, or upon completion. They are able to stop and resume at any time, with all their preferences retained. Users can also export their financials to an Excel spreadsheet.
Once the Business Plan Writer application was developed, Envision IT incorporated Extranet User Manager for sign on to the web portal and tool. EUM allows users to register for an account then sign in with that account. The registration process is seamless, and users receive an automated email with a link inviting them into the platform once they have registered. Once logged in, users can start a new business plan or continue/update an existing plan. They enjoy a single sign on experience if already logged in to the Futurpreneur portal application. Forgotten passwords are easily retrieved with a secure time-expiring token sent by email. User data is stored in an external highly secure SQL database.
A week after the tool was formally launched, there were already over 200 new registrants, and zero support requests or emails about the new application, which was tremendous news for the Futurpreneur Team!