Business plan competitions have become an important venue for finding investors. Jenny Lefcourt, co-founder of WeddingChannel.com, found venture capital to support her business at a school business plan competition. Other competitions award cash prizes that the entrepreneur can use to jumpstart the business.
If this is something you want to try, here are some of the business plan competitions:
Oxford University Business Plan Competition (2006 competition has lapsed but you can try next year) http://www.science-enterprise.ox.ac.uk/html/busplan_timetable.asp
USF International Business Plan Competition
Tech Valley Business Plan competition
IBK Capital Ivey Business Plan competition
International Business Plan Competition for Poverty Reduction and Profit
Rice University Business Plan competition