Although investors are more cautious than they were in the go-go 1980s, sources of early-round backing flourish anew
After a four-year slump, venture capital funds that provide early-round financial support, including seed money, to start-up biotechnology companies and other high-tech enterprises are reportedly starting to flourish again.

"On the order of 100 venture capital funds are currently raising money," says Robert Mast, vice president of Venture Economics, Newark, N.J., a unit of Securities Data Co. that tracks activity at the approximately 700 or so venture capital funds throughout the United States. "That's the highest number since 1987."

It's easier to attract a venture capital investment than it is to win your state lottery. But not by much. As a rule of thumb, venture capitalists fund roughly one out of every 100 business plans they read.

Fortunately, you can do much to beat these odds. Here are some suggestions gleaned from...

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