For Subscribers

Learn by Pitching

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

By Cynthia E. Griffin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

"Where do I find money to launch?" is probably thesingle most frequently asked question of start-up entrepreneurs.Typically the answer is friends, family and fools-but collegestudents and newly minted grads sometimes have trouble convincingthose sources to ante up. Fortunately, there are some solidalternatives to consider, including venture forums and businessplan competitions. Both have been around for years, but not all ofthem are created equal.

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

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