Elizabeth Escobar's "Hay Trabajo" Selected as Winner of Hornets Innovation Summit presented by Bank of America

March 21, 2022 – The Charlotte Hornets and Bank of America tonight announced entrepreneur Elizabeth Escobar and her bilingual job platform, Hay Trabajo, was selected as the winner of the Hornets Innovation Summit Presented by Bank of America and a $15,000 investment from the organization. The announcement of the winner was made during tonight’s game between the Hornets and New Orleans Pelicans.  

Hay Trabajo, which translates to “There’s Work,” is a mobile-friendly, subscriber-based platform that connects Spanish speakers with jobs in the Charlotte area. Launched in January 2019, the platform (haytrabajoya.com) provides translation services to employers who would like to post either a job or advertisement, and currently offers its services free of charge to nonprofits in the area. Hay Trabajo was selected from four finalists by a panel of five judges that included Hornets Sports & Entertainment President & Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield, Bank of America Charlotte Market Executive Tammy Mangum, The Lonely Entrepreneur Founder & CEO Michael Dermer, Jordan Brand Sports Marketing Field Representative Jasmine Jordan-Christmas and Novant Health Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer Tammy Jones.

In its second year, this year’s Hornets Innovation Summit received over 100 applications that were submitted online and included a one-minute video pitch. Sixteen applicants moved on to the second round, where their video pitches were posted on hornets.com and social media for fan voting.  After nearly 40,000 total fan votes, the top two from fan voting plus two pitches selected by an internal committee from the Hornets and Bank of America moved on to the final round, where they presented live to the panel of judges. Hay Trabajo, which received the most fan votes, was joined in the final round by KOVA RTBT, Peoples Private Learning Center and Raising Resilience. 

The final pitch event was held live at Spectrum Center on March 15 and streamed live on hornets.com. A recording of the event is available on hornets.com/innovation-summit and YouTube.com/hornets.  In addition to the top four pitches, the event featured two speakers sharing insights and business advice for entrepreneurs: Lowe’s Executive Vice President and Chief Brand & Marketing Officer Marisa Thalberg as well as Hornets player and entrepreneur Kelly Oubre Jr., who debuted his clothing brand Dope$oul in 2021.  

As part of Hornets Sports & Entertainment’s focus on economic mobility, the Hornets Innovation Summit Presented by Bank of America was designed to provide social and financial capital for its participants. For a second straight year, every applicant received one year of complimentary resources from The Lonely Entrepreneur, a national nonprofit that provides current and aspiring entrepreneurs with knowledge, tools and support to grow businesses. The 16 participants that advanced to the second round will also receive complimentary Better Money Habits® coaching sessions from Bank of America, tailored to help them build impactful businesses and make smart financial decisions. Tonight, the 16 second-round contestants, as well as the panel of judges, were invited to a special pregame networking event at Spectrum Center to provide further social capital and awareness amongst participating businesses. 

Along with the financial investment, Escobar cited the exposure Hay Trabajo received through the video pitches posted on social media for the second round and the live stream of the final round as benefits of participating in the Hornets Innovation Summit Presented by Bank of America. 

“This experience allowed us to have the opportunity to tell our story and what we are doing for the Hispanic community,” said Escobar. “There will be some Hispanic people that probably learned about Hay Trabajo by watching that pitch, and also some businesses that didn’t know there is a solution. Maybe they have been struggling to find workers and wanted to hire Hispanic workers and had been wondering how to connect with them.”

The Hornets Innovation Summit Presented by Bank of America was open to businesses and entrepreneurs located within 150 miles of Spectrum Center 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), matching the criteriaused by the National Minority Supplier Development Council for the Minority Business Enterprise Certification.

Following the first-ever Innovation Summit in 2021, the Hornets awarded the $15,000 investment to entrepreneur Brandi Long for her venture known as The Jurse, which transitions from a jacket to a purse, or vice versa, in less than 30 seconds. In the week following the announcement of the winner, Long experienced an 88 percent increase in sales and an increase of more than 150,000 percent in website visits. The Jurse is currently for sale in the Hornets Fan Shop, for a limited time only.