Published on October 24, 2018 by Morgan Black  
Video poster image

Recovery Tribe, a company that provides counseling and healing through a web-based app, was voted “best survivor” at The Lion’s Den event hosted by Samford University on Oct. 18. The fifth annual event drew a record crowd of people hailing from 10 countries, 25 states and 83 cities around the world who came to see four international entrepreneurs present to The Lion’s Den and an audience in a Shark Tank-style format. 

The Lion’s Den is an annual educational event presented by Cedarworks Inc. with the goal to inspire, educate and mobilize people to use their time, talents and other resources in the Kingdom through Business as Mission. 

The four finalists were chosen from a pool of more than 40 entrepreneurial companies operating as Business as Mission (BAM). These international entrepreneurs presented their business ideas to a capacity audience of more than 320 who voted via a texting poll on the likelihood of success and spiritual impact that each business may potentially have.  

In addition to the audience, the four business plans were presented in front of a panel that evaluated how the companies would focus on producing financial, social, environmental and spiritual impact in their chosen endeavors, also known as the quadruple bottom-line in The Lion’s Den applicant criteria. Panelists included Max Anderson, founder of Saturn Five headquartered in Colorado; Colin Crawley, director of CRM U.K. in England; Daniel Jean-Louis, president and chief executive officer of Bridge Capital S.A. in Haiti; Jeremy Thornton, professor of economics in Samford’s Brock School of Business and leader of Samford’s social entrepreneurship program; and Chuck Welden, Cedarworks Inc. board member and director of development for WeldenField Development in Birmingham.

Recovery Tribe (RTribe) was voted the “best survivor” among the companies who presented to The Lion’s Den. Founder and chief executive officer Alex Lerza, from Los Gatos, California, presented his business plan and mission to use technology to empower a movement of connection, freedom and integrity by equipping, connecting and inspiring those with struggles and behavioral health issues towards life-giving transformation.

Three additional finalists of The Lion’s Den 2018 included Chariots Investments, Turaco and Jonas Paul Eyewear. 

Chariots Investments, headquartered in Madrid, Spain, works towards expanding the number of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchises that are located in Spain. “Our work is our ministry,” said chief executive officer and cofounder Manuel Zamudio. “We want to glorify God in everything we do.” By bringing these franchises to the country, Zamudio and his partners hope to help decrease Spain’s 40 percent unemployment rate while spiritually impacting the communities they serve.

Turaco, a new insurance product headquartered in Nairobi, Africa, is only a few months old. In Africa, hospitals require cash before providing care and Turaco exists to try to change that by creating simplified insurance and credit solutions through mobile technology.

Jonas Paul Eyewear, an eyewear company that makes stylish kid’s glasses, was founded by Ben and Laura Harrison shortly after their son was born with a rare optical disorder leaving him blind from birth. Jonas Paul Eyewear creates fashionable, affordable eyewear for kids and has been featured on The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Harvard Business Review and more. A portion of the company’s proceeds are donated towards research to help cure diseases caused by Vitamin A deficiencies.

During the event, Eliza Bishop, a junior from Spartanburg, South Carolina, majoring in finance and marketing was recognized via video as the first Taylor M. Harsh Scholarship Award recipient. The scholarship was started by Carter and Cindy Harsh in memory of their son, Taylor, who suddenly passed away in 2017 and who was passionate about working to advance the BAM vision. The scholarship is given to a student who shares the same passion and desire to see God’s Kingdom glorified through their work and has supported Bishop’s internship with The Lion’s Den during this academic semester.

“Cedarworks and The Lion’s Den host committee have always felt that the partnership with Samford University and Brock School of Business is important to our success,” said Andrew Clark ’03, Cedarworks Inc. board member and owner of Wherewithal. “We have grown because of relationships that seek a high level of professionalism, innovation and vision for our shared faith. Such a mindset is embodied through our partnership among dozens of Samford faculty, administrators, staff, interns and volunteer-students who contributed to another year’s achievement.”

"The Lion's Den compliments the mission of Brock School of Business,” said Dean Howard Finch. “Hosting this prestigious event provides our students with wonderful examples of individuals engaged in creative, successful businesses with a Kingdom focus."

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.