From the July 2006 issue of Entrepreneur

Editor's note: To view our VC 100 listing, click here. On this page, you'll also find an online exclusive listing of top VC firms for later-stage companies, plus inside advice from venture capitalists.

Entrepreneurs that made it to the "MoneyTree" in 2005 found bigger fruit. A total of 608 startup and early stage companies got their first round of venture capital last year, according to a special analysis prepared for Entrepreneur of the "MoneyTree Report" by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data from Thomson Financial. On average, each company got $4.8 million, for a combined total of $2.9 billion. Both figures are four-year highs.

And this year's list of the most active investors got longer. An additional 11 firms made the cutoff of three or more qualifying deals. So entrepreneurs seeking funding had more avenues to pursue and were likely to get more money. But that doesn't mean it was any easier to get first-time funding-the raw number of companies that succeeded in getting initial capital in 2005 actually fell 7 percent from 654 in 2004.

The first-time funding bar has been raised, but once crossed, there's plenty of continuing support. All told, venture capitalists poured $21.7 billion into emerging companies in 2005. The bulk of that money-$16.4 billion-went to subsequent rounds of financing for existing portfolio companies to help keep them growing.

With another productive year of funding underway, check out the list on the following pages to see which VCs you should look toward to nurture your newest venture.--Tracy T. Lefteroff, global managing partner of private equity and venture capital, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Doing the Numbers
Our VC 100 rankings are based on the number of first-time fundings to companies in the startup and early stages of development made by VC firms and similar entities in calendar year 2005 as measured by the "MoneyTree Report" from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, based on data from Thomson Financial.

Companies in the startup stage of development may have been in business for only a few months. Companies in the early stage of development have generally been in operation less than 24 months. These fundings represent the first time a company receives financing from a professional VC firm in exchange for equity. More mature companies-those in the expansion or late stages of development--are not included in the analysis, even though they may have gotten venture capital for the first time in 2005.