Aspiring student entrepreneurs from Parkland College will soon pitch their ideas before local venture capitalists and startup experts as they vie for more than $7,000 in monetary awards and the title of Parkland Student Entrepreneur of the Year.
Parkland College's Entrepreneurial Network (PEN) will hold its second CobraVenture Pitch Showcase at 6 p.m. on Monday, November 16, live-streamed on the college's YouTube account. The contest will highlight students from the CobraVenture program's student accelerator lab, which launched in January 2020.
Viewers can visit parkland.edu/cobrapitch for program details and the streaming link. Entrepreneurship Facilitator Marc Changnon will serve as emcee. CobraVenture's cohort includes students from a variety of academic programs who want to start their own businesses while still enrolled in college. A list of the students and their businesses can also be found at parkland.edu/cobrapitch.
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, Joan Dixon of the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois, and Marissa Siero of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Gies College of Business.
The 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 2020 have had the added challenge of navigating the complexities of the pandemic while still working hard to complete 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.