Powerhouse entrepreneurs Nick Cannon and John Hope Bryant were among the business leaders who kicked off the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit on Thursday, sharing insight and strategies for business owners to navigate the market at this time of uncertainty.

The two-day virtual conference, which was hosted in partnership with Nationwide, was designed to accelerate the growth, profitability, and scalability of Black-owned businesses. Whether operating a B-to-C enterprise or B-to-B company, attendees were empowered with the tools to achieve higher levels of success at the virtual event. This year—the first virtual conference in its 25-year history—included several new elements, including live chats with speakers and experts and an interactive Business Opportunity Showcase, which gives participants access to coaching, mentorship, and networking opportunities.

“Make no mistake, the COVID-19 pandemic may have forced us to physically distance from one another, but it could not diminish our resolve to both celebrate and elevate Black entrepreneurs and business professionals,” said Black Enterprise President and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. during the summit. “Your success is our mission at Black Enterprise and we are relentless in pursuit of that goal.”

Cannon, an acclaimed entertainer and the founder of NCREDIBLE Entertainment, opened up about his roots in entrepreneurship and television.

“I was a natural-born entrepreneur. I call it an entreper-trainer now,” said Cannon, who executive produces and hosts Fox’s The Masked Singer as well as MTV/VH1’s Wild N’ Out, which was temporarily canceled by parent company ViacomCBS, earlier this year over his anti-Semitic remarks. Before getting originally picked up by MTV, Cannon used his own funding to shoot and produce Wild N’ Out. “It’s called investing in your vision,” he said. “That goes back to passion. That goes back to—even when others can’t see the seed that you possess, you have to plant it into the ground yourself.”

Cannon also talked about his business role models, naming Harry Belafonte and Quincy Jones, and his admiration for how they’ve shifted the culture.⁣

During a fireside chat, Hope Bryant, the founder of Operation HOPE, talked about his partnership with Shopify to develop 1 million Black businesses.

During the “Capitalizing on Cultural Currency and Social Influence” session, Alex Wolf, an award-winning tech, culture, and business influencer, and Travis Weekes, the founder and managing partner of Driven Society, talked about the secret to monetizing social media and leveraging cultural clout to build your brand and your business.

The Entrepreneurs Summit continues on Friday with fireside chats with Wayne Brady, the award-winning singer/songwriter, entertainer, and improv artist, and Byron Allen, the chairman, and CEO, Allen Media Group. Other speakers include Resilia CEO Sevetri Wilson and ACE Petroleum founder and CEO Moses Shepherd.

In addition to Entrepreneurs Summit host sponsor Nationwide, partners include presenting sponsor J.P. Morgan Wealth Management; platinum sponsor Microsoft; and corporate sponsors including Amazon Web Services, Comcast, FedEx, Rémy Martin, and Walmart.

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