One Way to Fund Innovation: Lions’ Den

If you’ve ever watched the show “Shark Tank,” you get the idea. In the shark tank, entrepreneurs pitch their business plans to a group of potential investors who poke and prod to determine, “Is this an idea worth investing in?” Promising projects receive funding and mentoring.

Last weekend I, along with about 80 others, attended a Lions’ Den event in Vancouver.

What is the Lions’ Den? Think venture capital for Christian missions. The Lions’ Den brought eleven highly promising innovation projects from around the world to pitch to dozens of highly motivated donors. A panel of five “lions” — each of whom put up $100,000 — peppered participants with tough questions, seeking to shape the future of our ministry by helping spur innovation to close the missional gap. Several projects involve social media and digital tools. This was the most exciting ministry event I’ve attended this year — God is at work!

Does it work? I’ll let you be the judge. By the end of the 36 hour event $794,000 had been pledged to fund these eleven projects.

You can do it, too. This wasn’t the first time the Canadian PowerToChange ministry had tried this. A few years ago they experimented with the concept on a much smaller scale, with four lions offering $5K each to fund a few promising ideas. Leonard Buhler and his team then refined their idea and cast a much larger and more compelling vision the second time around. Iteration leads to improved innovation. 

What might it look like for your team to sponsor a Lions’ Den?

By Ken

Dr. Ken Cochrum (DMin, Bethel University) is Vice President of Global Digital Strategies at Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) in Orlando, Florida. An avid cyclist and aspiring guitarist, he also holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas and a Masters of Arts in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. He recently co-founded Indigitous.org, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies. He previously served as vice president of Cru’s student-led movements worldwide. He and his wife Ann spent 13 years in East Asia where they raised their two children. Ken blogs regularly at www.onleadingwell.com.

4 comments

  1. Thanks Ken for the update. We have been praying for this event and concept. Sounds like a viable new avenue of building an innovation spirit – partner engagement with us – leaders being effective fund raisers!

  2. Agreed, Jan-Willem, and a fantastic opportunity to celebrate your anniversary with Marjon as well.

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