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Steve Chiotakis: Hey, say you've got a great idea -- and you have the attention of a rich investor. What would you say? How would you present your idea? There'll be a lot of that going on over the next few days in San Francisco. The "International Business Plan Competition" will award $25,000 in prize money, and offer some professional coaching. Here's Marketplace's Senior Business Correspondent Bob Moon.

Bob Moon: The event is all the more competitive given that venture capital is in tight supply. Thomson-Reuters figures investment in U.S. start-ups dropped 71 percent in January from a year earlier.

Mark Heesen heads the National Venture Capital Association. He says it pays these days to focus on the task that's very much at hand for businesses around the world -- cutting costs:

Mark Heesen: Anything that saves money for companies in a pretty dramatic fashion is being looked at today.

Heesen also says money-saving green technologies remain attractive to investors. But no matter how good the idea, finding funding these days, he says, requires a fire in the belly. And investors need a strong stomach.

Professor Josh Lerner studies venture capital at Harvard Business School. He says the boom days are long over:

Josh Lerner: Returns over the last five years, even the last 10 years, are looking increasingly grim as that golden era recedes further into the past.

Of course, given all this, you could just send your money my way. No promises -- but that's my pitch in less than a minute.

In Los Angeles, I'm Bob Moon for Marketplace.