Jesse Lipson is a self-taught software developer and became a full-time entrepreneur at age 23.Shortly after the dotcom crash, he took over a small pharmaceutical market research company called Rapidata.net and also co-founded a web development firm called novelProjects. After a successful acquisition of Rapidata by Greenfield Online in early 2004, he decided to focus on the SaaS (software-as-a-service) space and built ShareFile in late 2005.
ShareFile is a file-transfer service built for business users who need secure, reliable and easy tools for sharing data. He launched ShareFile in late 2005 and bootstrapped the company from zero to four million users in six years. ShareFile was acquired by Citrix in 2011 and today has over $200M in revenue and several hundred employees. He served in a variety of roles at Citrix for the next 5 years, including serving on the executive leadership team as Corporate VP of Cloud Services.
Jesse co-founded HQ, a co-working community primarily based in Raleigh with over 400 member companies and 100,000 sq ft under management. Most recently, Jesse started a software company called Real Magic. Real Magic recently launched Levitate, which helps small businesses grow and manage their professional relationships to help drive more referral and word of mouth business. He holds a degree in philosophy from Duke University and serves on the Board of Directors of Yext (NYSE: YEXT).
Christopher Gergen is the CEO and co-founder of Forward Cities – a national learning collaborative of over two dozen cities focused on building more inclusive entrepreneurial economies that also helped launch InnovateNC – a similar multi-city learning collaborative in North Carolina. He is also a founding partner of HQ Community, the largest entrepreneurial co-working community in North Carolina. Additionally, Christopher is a fellow and faculty member with Duke University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship initiative, co-author of the nationally acclaimed book Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives, an alum of Leadership North Carolina (class 24) and a 2013 Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute. Other entrepreneurial endeavors for Christopher include co-founding SMARTHINKING, a venture-backed on-line tutoring company that grew to over 1,000 universities before being acquired by Pearson in 2011, launching the Entrepreneurs Corps that placed 400 AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteers into 96 non-profits for a year of capacity building support, and starting Café Nunoa – a bar, restaurant, live music venue in Santiago, Chile that Christopher started when he was 24. He lives with his wife and two children in Durham, NC.
Brooks Bell is an established leader in the emerging industry of conversion optimization. She started her firm, Brooks Bell, in the early 2000s to help bring a data-driven mindset to digital marketing departments, and quickly became the leading organization in the industry. Today, her goal is still the same: to help companies discover the people behind the data using advanced analytics, optimization and personalization strategies. The Brooks Bell team has generated more than $500 million dollars in value for industry leaders in retail, financial services, media, and technology.
A recognized thought leader in analytics and entrepreneurship, Brooks has been featured in publications including Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Washington Post, and Techonomy. Most recently, Brooks spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention and has moderated events for Bill Clinton, venture capitalist Chris Sacca, and Chelsea Clinton.
Brooks co-founded HQ Raleigh and ThinkHouse Raleigh—two communities that help empower, foster, and cultivate companies that produce long-term job growth and positive social impact. She is dedicated to social issues and serves on the board of WalkFree.org, the largest movement in the world dedicated to ending modern slavery. She has also served as the president of the Entrepreneurs Organization, and as a board member of the Digital Analytics Association and the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.
A native of Alaska, Brooks earned her B.A. from Duke University in 2001.
Jason Widen is Co-Founder of Forward Impact whose mission is to unleash the impact potential of next generation entrepreneurial leaders. This work includes supporting community-based strategies to develop and scale high-impact entrepreneurs including HQ Raleigh, REVGEN, and Leadership exCHANGE. Jason brings an extensive background as an investor, developer, and entrepreneur to his current role as Founding Partner and CEO of HQ Raleigh, an award-winning entrepreneurial co-working space located in Downtown Raleigh. HQ boasts 400 member companies and 800 members including key partnerships with NC State, Campbell Law, and Meredith College to name a few. Moreover HQ Member companies raised over 58 million in funding in 2018. Seeking to develop sales talent for start ups and established companies, Jason Founded REVGEN in 2013. REVGEN boasts having hired and trained over 600 employees with a number of notable clients- Citrix, Redhat, Dude Solutions, and Filter Easy. Jason has raised millions of dollars as an entrepreneur and real estate developer including over 103 projects, most recently having raising capital for the purchase and development of expansion space for HQ Raleigh. In addition, Jason was instrumental in the creation of Leadership exCHANGE, an award-winning organization dedicated to training the next generation of leaders and global citizens to change the world. Moreover, Jason is an ardent supporter of Raleigh’s community and currently sits on a number of noteworthy Boards to include: Innovate Raleigh, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, and Downtown Raleigh Alliance. He lives with his wife and daughter in Raleigh.
Jess Porta is the Director across locations. She loves working with members to help solve problems and connect them with unique opportunities. Jess is also an artist, poet, and human rights activist. In the past she worked with victims of human trafficking, after obtaining her Masters of International Studies from NC State and her BA in International Politics and Art History at Penn State. She is a published children’s book author and a proud dog mom.
Director of Development
Christie Williams handles all leasing and event inquiries and work to develop new relationships beyond our current HQ Community.
She has two daughters and two Pit Bulls, and an awesome husband. She is passionate about inclusivity, adoption, local restaurants, and Bluegrass music. When she’s not at work, you can usually find her at an Estate Sale, renovating her home, or repurposing cool furniture.
Stephanie manages all community engagement efforts and leads all B-Corp Special Projects. She went to Washington College for an International Studies and Archaeology double major, and her passion lies in development abroad in post conflict regions. Stephanie is interested in the intersection between diversity, resources, community engagement, and social growth. On the side she utilizes her veterinary tech training in her own pet sitting business, and helps network local live performance events with nonprofit engagement.
Director of Facilities
George England has 10+ years of experience in hospitality and engineering. George enjoys solving problems and providing solutions for clients. He is an entrepreneur at heart and there isn’t a hobby out there that he hasn’t tried. Whether it’s drones, video editing & photography, fishing, virtual reality games, or boating, you name it he’s done it! George’s newest hobby is his newborn son!
Lauren Romer oversees operations across all locations. If you need something changed, updated, or improved- let her know and she will do her best to help. She is an NC State graduate, Go Pack! And also holds a North Carolina Real Estate License. When she isn’t at HQ you can find her checking out Raleigh’s newest restaurants, traveling, or hanging with her dog, Hercules.
Daphanie Doane serves as HQ’s first Community Fellow. She primarily works at our Warehouse location assisting members and running day-to-day operations. She is a senior at Campbell University majoring in Business Administration. Daphanie enjoys traveling, trying new restaurants, and playing with her pup, Malachi.
Devon, or as his friend’s call him, “Chef,” is your go to guy for cooking, working out, or graphic design tips. He is currently working toward his BFA at UNC Greensboro in New Media & Design with my focus being Branding and Logo Design. Devon keep HQ running like a well oil machine through building refreshes, repairs, and light maintenance.