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The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City, Carla Hinton column

By Carla Hinton, The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Aug. 30--Five metro-area entrepreneurs will venture into a "Lion's Den" hoping to escape unscathed, much like the biblical hero Daniel.

The Lion's Den in this instance is life-affirming rather than life-threatening, said Lisa Miller-Baldwin, founder of the Entrepreneur of Faith Conference.

Miller-Baldwin said the five finalists for the conference's Lion's Den competition all are preparing their oral presentations for a chance to win funds to enhance their business endeavors.

She said the finalists will pitch their ideas to "lions" -- successful and seasoned men and women in the faith and business community.

The Lion's Den, modeled after the popular ABC reality TV show "Shark Tank," will be the highlight of the final session of the Entrepreneur of Faith Conference set for Sept. 13 at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany.

Finalists

The finalists are:

Athena Cosby, of Innertwine Dance Fitness, a dance studio with a faith-based fitness system.

Sharahya Dejear, of It's POPular Gourmet POPcorn, a company that allows children entrepreneurs to garner earnings for themselves.

Trina House, of Let's Play Together, a company that promotes positive interactions within marriages.

Richard Osei, of RoIT Consulting, an information technology company that provides affordable services to various groups, especially churches and nonprofit organizations.

Nathan Williams, of Solomon's Porch, a 22,000-square-foot multipurpose event center that takes its mission from the book of Acts in the Bible, about an outdoor portico of the Jewish Temple where Christians gathered for instruction in God's Word, healing, fellowship and celebrations.

Miller-Baldwin said the finalists were chosen from 35 people who submitted business plans as part of the competition. She said the Lion's Den competition has added an extra level of excitement to the entrepreneurs' conference.

"I love 'Shark Tank,' and I thought it would really be awesome if we had a Christian spin to this," she said. "It has given the conference a different level of intrigue."

Judges

Miller-Baldwin said she is thrilled to have the seasoned entrepreneurs be a part of the conference. These "lions" include Estella Hernandez, co-owner of Lone Star Construction; Bobby Gruenewald, pastor-innovation leader at LifeChurch.tv and founder of the church's popular YouVersion Bible app; Aprille Franks-Hunt, Women Recharge founder and chief executive officer; and Mark Temple, president of Temple & Son funeral home.

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Others are: Sean Abbananto, creator of The Journey life coaching firm; Diane Hartley, president of the Oklahoma Women's Coalition; Shannon Wilburn, co-creator and founder of the Just for Friends franchise; and Megan Toole-Hall, founder of Megan Toole-Hall Farmers Insurance Agency and founder and president of Skimpy Cocktails.

The "lions" will select first-, second- and third-place winners from the five finalists. First-place winner will receive a $2,700 grant and the title of "Entrepreneur of the Year," second will receive a $1,500 grant, and the third-place winner will receive an $800 grant.

Boosting business

While the "Lion's Den" is modeled after "Shark Tank," Miller-Baldwin said one big difference between the two concepts is the Christian-oriented Lion's Den seeks to boost the entrepreneurs' business without taking part of their proceeds.

"We want to help them enlarge their territory," she said.

Meanwhile, Miller-Baldwin said Tom Hill, chief executive officer and chairman of the board of Kimray, will be keynote speaker for the Entrepreneur of Faith Conference. Last year's keynote speaker was David Green, founder and chief executive officer of Oklahoma City-based crafts retailer Hobby Lobby.

Miller-Baldwin said the conference will include sessions designed to help entrepreneurs of faith and their businesses thrive.

___

(c)2014 The Oklahoman

Visit The Oklahoman at www.newsok.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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