Medieval Europe had few 'companies' as paying interest was considered the sin of usury.
With the Reformation came the rise of 'joint-stock' companies.
English monarchs granted royal charter monopolies to 'joint stock' companies where carpenters, blacksmiths, bakers, masons, etc., could invest in and receive profits from trading expeditions.
In 1551, the Company of Merchant Adventurers to New Lands searched for a northeast sea route to China and Indonesia's Spice Islands.
They only got to northern Russia before being blocked by ice. This turned into the Muscovy Company in 1555 which traded with Czar Ivan the Terrible.
England started the Levant Company which traded with Turkey's Ottoman Muslims in 1581, followed by the British East India Company in 1600.
Eventually, companies were formed to trade with Africa, the Mediterranean and America.
A delicate balance of motivations drove men on, both then and now, being in constant competition: greed versus the gospel.
In 1606, King James I, for whom the King James Bible was named, granted a charter to the Virginia Company, stating:
"For the Furtherance of so noble a Work, which may, by the Providence of Almighty God, hereafter tend to the Glory of His Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian Religion to such People, as yet live in Darkness."
In 1607, the Virginia Company sent three ships, the Susan Constant, Discovery, and Godspeed, under Captain Christopher Newport to explore Chesapeake Bay.
Upon landing, they erected a Christian cross and chaplain Robert Hunt offered prayer, as portrayed in the award winning CBN film "First Landing the Movie."
Sailing up the 'James River,' named after King James, they established the first permanent English settlement in the New World on MAY 13, 1607 - 'James Town.'
Unfortunately in the next three years, mosquito swamps, malaria, hunger, exposure and Indian attacks resulted in 439 of Jamestown's 500 settlers dying, including Rev. Robert Hunt.
The settlers wrote:
"1607. To the glory of God and in memory of the Reverend Robert Hunt, Presbyter, appointed by the Church of England.
Minister of the Colony which established the English Church and English Civilization at Jamestown...
His people, members of the Colony, left this testimony concerning him. Rev. Robert Hunt was an honest, religious and courageous Divine.
He preferred the Service of God in so good a voyage to every thought of ease at home."
Settlers continued their tribute of Rev. Robert Hunt:
"He endured every privation, yet none ever heard him repine.
During his life our factions were ofte healed, and our greatest extremities so comforted that they seemed easy in comparison with what we endured after his memorable death.
We all received from him the Holy Communion together, as a pledge of reconciliation, for we all loved him for his exceeding goodness.
He planted the first Protestant Church in America and laid down his life in the foundation of America."