April 23, 2021 – The Charlotte Hornets Foundation tonight announced entrepreneur Brandi Long and her product, The Jurse, was selected as the winner of the first-ever Hornets Innovation Summit and a $15,000 investment from the organization. The announcement of the winner was made at halftime of tonight’s game between the Hornets and Cavaliers, which was this season’s second Economic EmpowerMINT Night presented by Bank of America.
The Jurse, which is short for jacket-purse, describes itself as “fashion meets convenience” and transitions from a jacket to a purse, or vice versa, in less than 30 seconds. It also contains an additional pocket to store essentials such as keys, cellphone and cards that do not need to be removed during the jacket to purse transition. The Jurse was selected from five finalists by a panel of five judges: The Lonely Entrepreneur Founder & CEO Michael Dermer, Red Ventures Co-Founder & CEO Ric Elias, Hornets Sports & Entertainment Executive Vice President & COO James R. Jordan, Bank of America SVP and Strategic Marketing Executive Grace Nystrum and Black Pearl Global Investments CEO Dr. Shanté Williams.
Launched on January 18 as part of Hornets Sports & Entertainment’s Social Justice Platform, the Hornets Innovation Summit received nearly 150 applications that were submitted online and included a one-minute video pitch. Twenty applicants moved on to the second round, where their video pitches were posted on hornets.com and social media for fan voting. After nearly 50,000 total fan votes, the top two from fan voting and three pitches selected by an internal committee moved on to the final round, where they presented live to the panel of judges. The Jurse was joined in the final round by Fortika Coffee Co., Framewrk, Let’s Diversifi and Melanin Enterprise.
The final round was recorded live and made available to view as a webinar earlier this week on hornets.com/innovation-summit and YouTube.com/hornets. In addition to the pitches, the webinar features four speakers sharing their insights and business advice for entrepreneurs: Young Money APAA Sports Agent & Attorney Nicole Lynn; Hornets Sports & Entertainment Managing Partner Curtis Polk; Bank of America SVP, General Ledger Services & Reporting Andree Taylor; and The Boost Pad COO & Entrepreneur in Residence Harrison Williams.
Every Innovation Summit 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 20 contestants in the second round also received complimentary access to Bank of America’s Better Money Habits, which aims to help people make sense of their money and take action to improve with free, easy-to-understand tools and resources. The four runners-up will also receive one year of resources from The Boost Pad, which provides resources to underrepresented entrepreneurs to help them create solutions, build impactful businesses and increase Charlotte’s economic mobility. The Boost Pad is also the recipient of this year’s Education Grant from the Charlotte Hornets Foundation.
Part of the organization’s focus on economic mobility, the Hornets Innovation Summit was designed to provide social and financial capital for its participants. The competition was open to business and group 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 criteria used by the National Minority Supplier Development Council for the Minority Business Enterprise Certification.