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:
    • $4,000 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 2024 cohort, students can earn "seed-money" awards up to $4,000 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 Strategic Partnerships and Workforce Innovation, Parkland College Community Education, and the Parkland Foundation.

Spring 2024 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.

Cohort Onboarding Session – Thursday January, 18

Defining Your Business – Thursday, January 25

What Are You Selling? – Thursday, February 1

Who Is Your Customer? – Thursday, February 15

Developing a Marketing Plan – Thursday, March 7

Legal Organization and Management – Thursday, March 28

Financial Management – Thursday, April 11

Executive Summary – Thursday, April 25

Pitch Prep and Practice Session* – Monday, April 29

CobraVenture Pitch Showcase* – Monday, May 20

*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 this video of last year's competition:

Advisory Committee

  • Marc Changnon, Entrepreneurship Coordinator
  • Scott Clanin, Owner/President, Clanin Marketing
  • Steve Gardner, Cozad Asset Management 
  • Triss Henderson, Director, Parkland Community Education
  • Mark Kesler, Parkland College Business Faculty
  • 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 Strategic Partnerships and Workforce Innovation, Parkland College
  • Tracy Wahlfeldt, Director, Parkland Foundation
  • Cayla Waters, Professional Development Program Manager, Parkland Community Education
  • Madeline Wolske, Director, Illinois Small Business Development