2023-24 Innovation Summit

About the Summit

Launched in 2021 as part of our Social Justice Platform, the Hornets Innovation Summit Presented by Bank of America works to address economic mobility by empowering minority entrepreneurs and increasing social and financial capital.

This year’s Summit will begin virtually with an opportunity to promote innovators and their concepts through social media outlets and fan voting. The finalists will then be invited to present their pitches in person to a panel of expert judges. As our goal is to increase both social and financial capital, all applicants will receive an electronic toolkit with vital tips for entrepreneurs. One winning applicant will receive a $15,000 investment from the Hornets. 

Who is 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

The Finalists

Innovation Summit 2024 | Ident-decals

Innovation Summit 2024 | Mahogany Brown Bridal

Innovation Summit 2024 | return

Innovation Summit 2024 | The Frame

Join Us

Join us live on and YouTube on March 28 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. Clippers game on March 31. If you are unable to attend the game, make sure to keep an eye out on our social channels (@hornetsgive) and the Hornets App.


Owner & Founder of ARCHIVE CLT


Mills Automotive Group CEO and HSE Ownership Group member


John M. Belk Endowment President & Board Chair and HSE Ownership Group member


Owner of Hip Hop Smoothie


Small Business Region Executive Bank of America

Application Process & Timeline

Applications may be submitted starting January 8, 2024, through 11:59 p.m. on January 31, 2024.

Step 1: Submit the Innovation Summit Application by January 31.

Step 2: An internal panel from Hornets Sports & Entertainment will review all applications. Applicants that are selected for Round 2 will be notified by email on February 7.

Step 3: All video pitches for Round 2 will be uploaded to and become available for fan voting on February 8.

Step 4: Fan voting will close on February 14 and finalists will be announced on March 1.

Step 5: Finalists will be selected to move on to the final round where they will present in person in front of a panel of experts at the end of March. Winner will be announced at the Hornets game on March 31.

Please contact Andie deCelis at with any questions.