About the Summit

As part of our Social Justice Platform, the Hornets will be focusing on economic mobility and how we can continue to help build others up, especially in Charlotte and the surrounding areas. In an effort to empower entrepreneurs within our community, the Hornets will be launching our second annual Innovation Summit to increase social and financial capital. The summit will take place virtually with an opportunity to promote innovators and their concepts through social media outlets. The top four finalists will then be invited to present their pitches in person to a panel of judges.

Who was eligible to apply:

Note: Criteria matches that used by the National Minority Supplier Development Council for the Minority Business Enterprise Certification

  • Businesses/groups that are at least 51% operated and controlled by minority group members (i.e., individuals who are at least 25% Asian, Black, Hispanic or Native American)
    • In the case of publicly-owned businesses, at least 51% of stock should be owned by minority group members using the definition above


  • Must be 18 years or older to apply
  • Cannot be employed by Hornets Sports & Entertainment, any of its subsidiaries and/or affiliates, or a family member of an employee
  • Applicants must be within 150 miles of Spectrum Center
  • A full list of rules and regulations can be found here

Application Process & Timeline

Applications may be submitted starting January 23, 2022, through 11:59 p.m. on February 10, 2022.

Step 1: Submit the Innovation Summit Application by February 10.

Step 2: An internal panel from Hornets Sports & Entertainment and Bank of America will review all applications. Applicants that are selected for Round 2 will be notified by email.

Step 3: All video pitches for Round 2 will be uploaded to and become available for fan voting on February 18.

Step 4: Fan voting will close on February 28 and finalists will be announced on March 4.

Step 5: Four finalists will be selected to move on to the final round where they will present in person in front of a panel of experts on March 15. Winner will be announced at the Hornets game on March 21.

Join Us

Join us live on and YouTube on March 15 for the premiere of the Hornets Innovation Summit final round, where our four finalists will present in front of a panel of expert judges in their final push to win a $15,000 investment from the Charlotte Hornets. The live premiere will also include various speakers, resources and opportunities to interact with other entrepreneurs – including our finalists.

The winner will be announced during the Hornets vs. Pelicans game on March 21. If you are unable to attend the game, make sure to keep an eye out on our social channels (@hornetsgive) and the Hornets App.

Please contact Andie deCelis at with any questions.

The Finalists



Fred Whitfield

President and Vice Chairman, Hornets Sports & Entertainment


Tammy Mangum

Charlotte Market Executive


Michael Dermer

Founder & CEO, The Lonely Entrepreneur


Jasmine Jordan-Christmas

Sports Marketing Field Representative, WNBA + NBA


Tammy Jones

Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Novant Health



Marisa Thalberg

Executive Vice President, Chief Brand and Marketing Officer, Lowe’s



As part of the Innovation Summit, HSE is partnering with The Lonely Entrepreneur, a national nonprofit that provides current and aspiring Black entrepreneurs with the knowledge, tools and ongoing support they need to start and grow their business. All applicants to the Innovation Summit will receive one year free access to the Lonely Entrepreneur Learning Community - a one stop shop of knowledge, tools, templates, weekly live coaching calls and ongoing support entrepreneurs need to succeed.