Pursuing their place in industries ranging from home healthcare to casual dining, the 10 student startups chosen for Parkland College's new CobraVenture accelerator are eager to get to work this month.
This pilot cohort includes students from a variety of academic programs who want to start their own businesses while still enrolled in college. This week, participants will begin attending a series of educational workshops on how to get started with their business plan and become their own boss. Session facilitator Marc Changnon will join powerful speakers at each workshop to help students succeed.
"We are as excited about the group's business ideas, which will have a great impact on this community and beyond, as the students are," Changnon said. "Now it's time for them to learn what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur and put these ideas on paper to make sure they're sound and sustainable."
The 10 startups in CobraVenture's 2019 cohort are:
Dylan Taylor, Good Game and Food
Laura LaBaugh, Handmade Bridal Veils
Mitchell Thompsen, Vanguard Drone Services
Giscard Roland, Screenboard LLC
Nichole Pearson, Medical Rides
Preston Richardson, The Helping Hand Company
James Buhr, Brace and Byte Woodworks
Gayle McDonald, PS 31 Productions
Elizabeth Allen, Vinyl Record Press
Samy Mackey, Samy's Food
Part of the Parkland Entrepreneurial Network (PEN), the CobraVenture program provides students with an avenue for networking and business mentorship. The semester-long accelerator will feature a collaborative workspace, topics taught by local serial entrepreneurs, and one-on-one guidance with business mentors.
Participants will have the chance to bring their business ideas to fruition by competing for up to $3,000 in seed money in CobraVenture's capstone Pitch Showcase this May, along with opportunities to raise even more capital as their pitches impress area leaders.
In its pilot year, CobraVenture joins two other PEN successes including Applied Media Promotions (AMP), a student-run public relations firm, and Perimeter Road Sound Recordings, a student-run record label. Both are operated by the college's Arts and Sciences division.
CobraVenture is funded through existing funds from the Parkland Foundation Entrepreneurial Founders Program, Murray Wise Associates PEN Program, and those raised through its annual Entrepreneur of the Year event. Parkland Community Education, the college's noncredit arm, is helping to plan and administer the workshops. The program is operating with oversight from an advisory committee comprised of community leaders and Parkland College faculty and staff, spearheaded by Stephanie Stuart, vice president for communications and external affairs.
"Conceptualizing CobraVenture and getting it off the ground has been an exciting experience because we're bringing together so many different units on campus and assets in the community to make it happen," Stuart said. "The students bring such creativity, passion, and energy to the table. We hope to bring them a rich experience and fuel the local economy with small businesses started right here at Parkland College."