Aspiring student entrepreneurs from Parkland College will soon pitch their ideas before local venture capitalists, startup experts and community members as they vie for $3,000 in seed money.
Parkland College’s Entrepreneurial Network (PEN) will hold its first-ever CobraVenture Pitch Showcase Monday, May 20, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Parkland College Student Union. The contest will highlight students from the CobraVenture program’s pilot student accelerator lab, which launched in January.
Free and open to the public, the pitch competition will include a half-hour reception and business showcase followed by the pitch event. Entrepreneurship Facilitator Marc Changnon will serve as emcee. CobraVenture’s pilot cohort includes students from a variety of academic programs who want to start their own businesses while still enrolled in college.
Judging their capstone competition will be Dan Marker of Hickory Point Bank, Carly McCrory of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, Professor Julie Weishar, chair of Parkland’s Fine and Applied Arts department, Scott Miller of Green Street Realty, Joan Dixon of the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois, Eric Wilson of Serra Ventures, and Marissa Siero of University of Illinois Gies College of Business.
The semester-long CobraVenture accelerator provides students with an avenue for networking and business mentorship. It features a collaborative workspace, topics taught by local serial entrepreneurs, and one-on-one guidance with business mentors. Participants in the spring 2019 cohort have worked hard on getting started with their business plans to become their own boss.
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.