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 an 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.

Who was eligible to apply:

  • 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

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


  • 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

Join Us

Join us live on hornets.com and YouTube at 6 p.m. on April 21 for the premiere of the Hornets Innovation Summit final round, where our five 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 Foundation. 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. Cavaliers game on April 23. If you are unable to attend the game, make sure to keep an eye out on our social channels (@hornetsgive) and the Hornets App.

Our five finalists are: Fortika Coffee Co., Framewrk, Let’s Diversifi, Melanin Enterprise and the Jurse.

Please contact Bari Pasternack at bpasternack@hornets.com with any questions.


The five pitches below will be moving on to the final round to compete for $15,000.

Fortika Coffee Co.


Let's Diversifi, PBLLC

Melanin Enterprise

The Jurse


Michael Dermer

Founder & CEO, The Lonely Entrepreneur

Ric Elias

Co-Founder & CEO, Red Ventures

James R. Jordan

Executive VP & COO, Hornets Sports & Entertainment

Grace L. Nystrum

SVP, Strategic Marketing Executive, Bank of America

Dr. Shanté Williams

CEO, Black Pearl Global Investments


Nicole Lynn

Sports Agent & Attorney, Young Money APAA Sports

Curtis Polk

Managing Partner, Hornets Sports & Entertainment

Andree Taylor

SVP, General Ledger Services and Reporting, Bank of America

Harrison Williams

COO & Entrepreneur in Residence, The Boost Pad


As part of the Innovation Summit, HSE is partnering with The Lonely Entrepreneur, a national nonprofit that provides current and aspiring entrepreneurs with knowledge, tools and support to grow businesses. Each applicant will receive one year of free access to the Lonely Entrepreneur Learning Community.


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