CobraVenture: Put your business ideas into action.

  • Network with students who also want to be their own boss.
  • Build your business plan with helpful workshops.
  • Learn from local entrepreneurs.
  • Take the chance to pitch your business plan to area leaders.
  • This no-cost program gives each cohort student a chance to win:
    • $3,000 in seed money for your business (the Murray Wise Student Entrepreneur of the Year Prize).
    • $250 to $1,500 in seed money (donated by local entrepreneurs).
  • Cohorts start in January and conclude with the Pitch Showcase in May.

Program Details

CobraVenture is a student-entrepreneur cohort for current Parkland College students who want to start their own business while still in enrolled in college. Students can be part of any academic program, but the thread that ties them together is the desire to take their idea from concept to commerce. For the 2023 cohort, students can earn "seed-money" awards up to $3,000 for their business through participation in the CobraVenture Pitch Showcase in May. 

The cohort model provides for a close-knit group to embark on the process together, through a series of workshops on topics important to getting their businesses started. Led by a facilitator, workshop topics are presented by Parkland faculty, business leaders, and alumni. Students do not receive academic credit for participation, but rather real-world skills that enhance what they have learned in the classroom. Participation is free but requires a high level of dedication. Workshops will be held on Thursday evenings during the spring semester. 

CobraVenture is a collaboration of the Office of the Vice President of Communications and External Affairs, Parkland College Community Education, and the Parkland Foundation.

 Upcoming Workshops

All Thursday Workshops will be held from 6 to 8 pm in the Parkland College Community Education Building, 1315 North Mattis Ave, Champaign, IL 61821.

This schedule could be interrupted due to Covid or winter weather. We will communicate changes as soon as we know anything.

Cohort Onboarding Session – Thursday January, 12

Defining Your Business – Thursday, January 26

What Are You Selling? – Thursday, February 2

Who Is Your Customer? – Thursday, February 16

Developing a Marketing Plan – Thursday, March 9

Legal Organization and Management – Thursday, March 30

Financial Management – Thursday, April 13

Executive Summary – Thursday, April 27

Pitch Prep and Practice Session* – Monday, May 1

CobraVenture Pitch Showcase* – Monday, May 15

*The Pitch Prep and Practice Session and the Pitch Showcase will be held in the Parkland College Student Union. 

Need More Information? 

Contact Marc Changnon, Entrepreneurship Coordinator, at or Cayla Waters at In addition, you can view these informational videos:

Advisory Committee

  • Marc Changnon, Entrepreneurship Coordinator
  • Scott Clanin, Owner/President, Clanin Marketing
  • Steve Gardner, Cozad Asset Management 
  • Triss Henderson, Director, Parkland Community Education
  • Mariel HyasangaDirector, Illinois Small Business Development
  • Mark Kesler, Parkland College Business Faculty
  • John Martinie, Vice President, The Atkins Group
  • Carly McCrory-McKay, Director, Economic Development Corporation
  • Mark Pelmore, CEO, Business Elevator, & Founder, Lincoln & Hill, Inc.
  • Colin Ramage, Commercial Portfolio Manager, Busey Bank
  • Jonathan Ross, Parkland College Career & Technical Education
  • Marissa Siero, U of I Grainger College of Engineering
  • Cindy Smith, Program Manager, Parkland College Arts and Sciences
  • Stephanie Stuart, Vice President for Communications & External Affairs, Parkland College
  • Tracy Wahlfeldt, Director, Parkland Foundation
  • Cayla Waters, Professional Development Program Manager, Parkland Community Education
  • Madeline Wolske, Business Librarian, Champaign Public Library