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Learn by Pitching

Business plan competitions and venture forums might be nerve-racking, but they can also get you the cash you need.

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This story appears in the July 2001 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine.

"Where do I find money to launch?" is probably the single most frequently asked question of start-up entrepreneurs. Typically the answer is friends, family and fools-but college students and newly minted grads sometimes have trouble convincing those sources to ante up. Fortunately, there are some solid alternatives to consider, including venture forums and business plan competitions. Both have been around for years, but not all of them are created equal.

In fact, a number of universities have gotten quite innovative with their competitions. For example, at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the Babcock Graduate School of Management has created the Babcock/Eno River Capital Elevator Competition. In this year's competition, held in March, 27 teams of MBA students representing 16 schools nationwide got two elevator rides of two minutes apiece to convince a venture capitalist that their business ideas were worth investing in.

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