6th Annual The Lion's Den DFW

Lion's Den DFW

On April 21st and 22nd, Dallas Baptist University held the sixth annual Lion’s Den DFW Conference and Pitch Competition on campus. Grateful to be back live and in person after hosting last year’s conference online due to COVID-19, this year’s event was a great success and made Christ-centered business tactics accessible to all in attendance—professionals, entrepreneurs, and DBU students alike.

Sponsoring organizations for the event included: HighGear, Sedera, Ambassador’s Impact Network, Joseph Advisory, Eagle Venture Fund, MyStreme, Weldenfield, Legends Texas, Barham & Maucere Law, Impact Foundation, EverSource Wealth Advisors. 

Founders of the DFW Lion's Den event, Dallas business leaders Ed Pearce and Vip Vipperman, had taken part in the original Lion’s Den event in Birmingham, Alabama. The duo desired to hold a similar event right in the heart of Texas – thus, The Lion’s Den DFW was born. Since its creation, DBU has served as the conference’s host facility and the bond between the two groups has grown each year.

Dr. Ross O’Brien, Director of the Center for Business as Mission (BAM) at DBU, explains that when BAM was established in 2013, one of the long-term goals the department had was to hold a faith-oriented business plan competition.

“I thought it would take years to develop this event as there are so many components to such an event and a lot of resources required to carry it out,” explains Dr. O’Brien. “However, within the first year the Lord led a few businessmen to our doorstep.”

This year, the conference held on campus consisted of a two-day event composed of both virtual and in-person breakout sessions, including a Keynote Luncheon with Emmy-Award winning journalist, podcaster, speaker and best-selling author Paula Faris.

In addition to five highly accredited individuals, this year, two DBU students—Jessica Fragoso and Tamanno Hodjihanova—were able to serve as judges for the annual Pitch Competition. Three awards were given based on the following criteria: Economic—most likely to have a solid financial return on investment; Mission—most likely to have a sound ministry or missional impact; and Overall—the best combination of economic and missional impact.

Not only do those who attend receive trustworthy business advice and get the opportunity to see real life entrepreneurs at work, throughout the course of the conference, Dr. O'Brien explains, “Students get to see examples of companies that genuinely seek to honor the Lord and co-labor with Him in restoring creation. They see real life examples of what we talk about in class.”

The founders of many of the companies in attendance are often willing to visit with students, the conference acts as a great networking opportunity for investors, entrepreneurs, and DBU students, and the event gives exposure to DBU and its beautiful campus.

The hard work of The Lion’s Den DFW does not begin or end with the annual conference, though. In addition to the event held at DBU, The Lion’s Den DFW holds virtual Practice Pitch Breakfasts the second Tuesday of every month. These events are free, informative, and a fun way to connect with other entrepreneurs around the country.

DBU is proud to partner with Christian organizations like The Lion’s Den DFW that show students what it means to truly carry out Business as Mission and encourage Christian businessmen and women to invest their efforts in Kingdom impacting endeavors.

Written by Emmalie Ellis

Emmalie Ellis writes for the University Communications department at Dallas Baptist University.