CEO of Creative HQ, Stefan is the driving force behind our vision and business strategy. Stefan works closely with the leadership team to ensure business is running smoothly while actively engaging our key stakeholders, investors and alumni to continually improve how CHQ adds value to the people and organisations we work with. A leading voice in the New Zealand startup ecosystem, Stefan helped set-up Creative HQ’s digital accelerator programme “Lightning Lab” and strongly believes in creating New Zealand’s future economic wealth through startup-led innovation and developing entrepreneurial talent.
Prior to Creative HQ, Stefan founded private incubator WebFund in 2007 to help web-based Kiwi start-ups conquer the world. Since its inception, WebFund has become a well-known player in the NZ start-up ecosystem with an established a portfolio of successful start-ups in Australia, the US and UK.
In 2010, Stefan was recognised as New Zealander of the Year by North & South Magazine for innovation in parenting education with one of WebFund’s Start-ups “DIYFather.com”.
During his career in the corporate world, Stefan ran large scale ecommerce platforms and managed complex business intelligence implementations for companies like HP, Oracle and InterContinental Hotels Group.
Stefan has a PhD in Artificial Intelligence, an MBA in international business and an Honours Degree in Computer Engineering.
Head of Customer Engagement
Nick is Head of Customer Engagement, responsible for Creative HQ’s role in fostering and nourishing the startup ecosystem. He supplies Wellington’s entrepreneur community with the resources, network and tools needed to build the next high-growth, global businesses.
Previous experience in media, tourism, travel industries give Nick a strong background in customer insight, relationship marketing and leveraging the human experience.
He is also a National Facilitator of Startup Weekend and looks to champion and further entrepreneurship and startup culture in New Zealand.
Head of Business Development
Alan is passionate about high-growth startup ventures and serves as an advisor on stakeholder and corporate relationship management and business development.
Formerly a business strategist at Creative HQ for 5 years, Alan is experienced in helping ventures validate value propositions and product/market fit. He has experience working with mobile, gaming, data and technology startups.
Before becoming an advisor, Alan was a serial entrepreneur, having built and sold several businesses in the art, design and manufacturing industries. He holds a BA from Otago University and a post graduate diploma in Industrial Design from Massey University.
Head of Acceleration
Brett has a diverse background in starting businesses, developing products, managing operations and growing sales. He is continuously looking for opportunities to work with entrepreneurs to develop and grow new companies.
Brett started his first start-up in 1998. That first business got bought in 2000. Since then, he has started 3 other companies, has helped a few others develop new products and new companies, and has mentored a range of young companies in New Zealand and the US. Brett’s bread and butter businesses are SaaS companies that use data in new and different ways to solve practical problems for other businesses. Brett enjoys working with like-minded people who follow their passions and enjoy what they do.
After a number of years on the Creative HQ Board, Brett joined the management team at Creative HQ in 2014 to head up all acceleration programmes including Lightning Lab. Brett serves on the Global Accelerator Network Advisory Board and is also active in the Angel HQ investment group with a small portfolio of early stage investments. Brett has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Chicago and both a Bachelor and Master of Science in Engineering from the University of Illinois.
Glenn is passionate about building companies bringing disruptive products and services to the world, that make it a better place. Glenn holds a wide variety of roles in the startup community, including acceleration coach at Creative HQ, board member, startup investor and founder.
Glenn is head of Enterprise Innovation leading development and implementation of Creative HQ’s corporate innovation programmes. Glenn also heads Creative HQ’s exponentials programmes, including exponential technologies and exponential organisations. He’s attended several Singularity University programmes in exponential technologies, including the executive programme at NASA in Silicon Valley.
Glenn runs Design Sprints, Market Validation programmes, Corporate Acceleration programmes, Exponential Workshops, etc. Creative HQ is dedicated to increasing the number of high-impact businesses that fuel New Zealand’s economy through acceleration programmes across all sectors (startups, medium to large enterprise, and government).
High Growth Advisor
Nick Gerritsen is a Marlborough-based catalyst and social entrepreneur, and one of Creative HQ’s High Growth Advisors.
He loves BIG ideas – ones that are going to lead to global structural change – and is committed to the culture of innovation – unafraid of operating beyond existing boundaries.
He is co-founder of leading renewable fuel developer NXT Fuels, along with Celsias, and Carbonscape amongst others, is Chairman of The National Whale Centre Development Trust, and The Ākina Foundation’s board of trustees.
Nick graduated from the University of Canterbury, Christchurch with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB). During his legal career, he advised leading corporates on intellectual property and later enjoyed a string of successful business ventures, most notably in radio, and software sectors.
Senior Consultant / Programme Director
After a 14-year tenure at South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Shawn O’Keefe relocated to Wellington following a chance encounter with the Creative HQ and Grow Wellington delegation at SXSW in Austin, Texas. O’Keefe has established himself as a strategist, entrepreneur, global networker, and thought-leader throughout his incredible career at SXSW. He came to NZ in 2015 to establish and run the first ever non-digital vertical of Creative HQ’s acceleration programme: Lightning Lab Manufacturing.
Shawn is also a co-founder of Litmus Health, and the co-creator of Rock That Font. Shawn has established an impressive track record of producing high profile events and is frequently asked to speak at business, tech and design events across the globe. He has presented at The Austin Forum, C’n’B at c/o Pop, Eurosonic Noorderslag, Futur en Seine, Ignite Austin, MTO Summits, TEDxBoulder, WebVisions, Wired Italy’s Smart People & Smart Cities and more..
Portfolio Manager & Programme Director
Previously Programme Director for Lightning Lab XX and now our Portfolio Manager, Laura is the driving force behind keeping our network strong, involved and ever-reaching. She brings New Zealand’s startup community together through events, sponsorships and workshops and online at Built in Wellington. A key part of our innovation services and acceleration teams, Laura’s panache for innovation helps her identify the right people, startups and ideas to bring into Creative HQ’s fold.
Before joining Creative HQ, Laura spent two years as Program Manager with TechStars, the flagship accelerator programme founded in Boulder, Colorado. She was also part of the founding team of the Global Accelerator Network.
Prior to finding her calling with startups, Laura held positions as a HR manager and a lawyer. She has studied law, political science, international relations, and diplomacy.
Acceleration Project Manager & 1st Assembly Manager
Venture Up Director
As Venture Up Director, Oliviah is at the helm of our first full immersion entrepreneurship accelerator for graduates of the Young Enterprise programme, Venture Up. A new initiative, Oliviah will work to activate New Zealand’s younger generation and help them supercharge their business ventures and entrepreneurial skills.
Oliviah has 10 years of overseas experience working in various creative and cultural environments – managing retail spaces, running events and generally helping people to do things better. She also spent seven years in New Zealand’s public sector, hiring and developing support staff, and advising on performance management.
She is passionate about enabling people to drive progress and changing the way we live, work and play.
Supporting the Venture Up manager, Lingy is responsible for ensuring New Zealand’s full immersion entrepreneurship accelerator for young graduates is running as smoothly as possible. Lingy will work to activate New Zealand’s younger generation and help them supercharge their business ventures and entrepreneurial skills.
Lingy has been involved with both public and private organisations, with a particular focus on marketing, communications & training. Working and living overseas for the past few years in the education sector, Lingy is passionate about helping people reach their full potential, both professionally and/ or personally.
Innovation Consultant / Programme Manager
Finn is the Programme Manager for Lightning Lab XX, and is passionate about finding ways to apply smart technology to make the world a better place. He’s responsible for engaging with teams, mentors, investors and stakeholders to deliver Lightning Lab and build successful companies.
As an alumni of the 2014 Lightning Lab cohort, Finn has a solid grounding in the startup world, balanced by previous experience consulting on large government and corporate IT projects. Having studied computer science in Wellington, Finn is comfortable writing both code and copy, and thrives working at the intersection of people and programming.
Venues and Events Manager
Creative HQ’s Venues and Events Manager – Katy is the lead on building dynamic working environments for our staff and programme ventures and bringing engaging events to the Creative HQ community and the national startup ecosystem. Katy’s experience includes project management in both New Zealand and abroad and being the in-house producer for one of New Zealand’s hero start up success stories – Icebreaker.
Katy is your first point of contact to Creative HQ – reach out to her at anytime.
Amelia is Creative HQ’s Resource Manager, working primarily as assistant, to the CEO, while also supporting the Business Unit Heads. She maintains shareholder information, manages contracts and organizes team events. She is responsible for planning and maintaining the CEO’s diary, preparing correspondence, agendas, reports and presentations.
Amelia has come from a diverse background of fast-paced work environments. She excels at ensuring high-quality customer service and building strong relationships. Amelia is passionate about consistently adding value, creating great environments and seeing others thrive within them.
Marketing & Communications Coordinator
James has a background in marketing and management. He hails from New Mexico and has a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. He is one of Creative HQ’s Innovation Consultants, and works on various projects simultaneously. He has worked with 1st Assembly to increase community engagement and grow the in-house environment. He also supports the Events Manager and Community Manager to create a consistent Creative HQ experience for the startup environment in Wellington. Currently he is focusing on the Innovation Challenge for Lightning Lab Electric, and will see the upcoming programme through to a successful demo day. James has a passion for bringing people together and expanding an already rich community.
Innovation Consultant & Programme Manager
1st Assembly Assistant Manager & Design Consultant
Jax is an experienced executive and highly collaborative mentor. Her role as the Head of Venture Management is to manage Creative HQ’s portfolio of companies in the Global Growth Program. She is overseeing the provision of business mentoring, coaching and support services to advance teams through the different phases of the GGP. She is inspired by and loves the energy of start-up businesses, the pioneering mindset and the need to embrace change.
Jax brings experience in business strategy, branding and (overseas) business development to Creative HQ and has been the GM Europe for Icebreaker, MD for Future Brand Germany, Director and Mentor to business startups, Mother, Advisory Board member to Starfish, PledgeMe and Munch.
She is passionate about organisations that enable healthy social change or support communities with innovative products and services, making the world a friendlier place.
Sarah is Creative HQ’s Finance Coordinator, ensuring everything runs smoothly. She is involved in all areas of finance, and manages our accounts payable and accounts receivable. She also is a huge support of the operations function of Creative HQ.
Prior to Creative HQ, Sarah served as a Frontline Administrator with Electricity Authority of New Zealand. Originally from the UK, Sarah is an entrepreneur herself, having started and ran her own photography business for two years after moving to Wellington.
Senior Innovation Specialist
James is a mentor and coach specialising in helping teams use agile and lean methods to deliver awesome outcomes. James works closely with teams across a range of areas, including growth strategy, market validation, experience design, and product development.
Having spent the first part of his career as a management consultant providing advisory and delivery services to some of the largest organisations across the U.K, Europe and NZ, James brings with him a deep knowledge and experience of delivering agile and innovative transformations at scale.
James brings huge passion and energy to everything he does, and prides himself on being able to work with teams at any level in an organisation, bringing a keen awareness of both commercial needs and technical possibilities.
Head of Marketing
Kelly Dare brings a diverse background to her role as Marketing and Communications Manager at Creative HQ. She likes telling stories and works with internal and external stakeholders to make sure the best ones are being told.
Ceara is responsible for supporting the Creative HQ team at the base, including supporting the events and operations team and is responsible for the onboarding and off-boarding of new residents in the space. Previously Ceara was a key member of the global team for NeueHouse, a private workspace for entrepreneurs and creative leaders, joining the team in its first weeks of being open in New York and establishing it in Los Angeles and London. Ceara is a part of the international honours society, Psi Chi, and has a background in Psychology and Environmental Studies. Ceara is passionate about creating an inspiring environment for the Creative HQ team and residents to thrive in.
Programme Director for Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator
Corporate Venturing Specialist