Pete Meets… Brooks Bell, Founder of Brooks Bell Inc. And Colon Cancer Survivor

Brooks Bell’s path in life and entrepreneurship has brought its share of curveballs. 

Before she was the founder of Brooks Bell Inc., a website optimization agency, Bell got her start in the tech scene when she launched her first company novelProjects while attending Duke University alongside her future husband Jesse Lipson. (Lipson is the founder of ShareFile and Levitate).

But life did not always go exactly as planned. Bell stepped down as CEO of her company in early 2019 after learning that she was diagnosed with Stage 3 colon cancer. After six months of surgery and chemotherapy, her cancer went into remission. Now Bell stays plenty busy as executive chairman of Brooks Bell Inc., an active member of boards including the Research Triangle Foundation and the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, and as a “colonoscopy enthusiast.”

In this week’s edition of Pete Meets…, Bell shared all about her journey from growing up in Alaska to viewing the “cancer card” as her superpower to co-founding HQ Raleigh (now Raleigh Founded) and everything in between.

Three Highlights

— Here’s the reason why Bell named her company after herself: while at novelProjects, Bell sometimes felt she lacked authority since she was the only woman and the youngest. So when she spun out her own company, the name [Brooks Bell Inc.] reflected her desire to truly be the leader and have the right to make the decisions. [14:46]

— ”It was so clear to me. That was the only answer. There was no other choice,” Bell said of her decision to step down as the CEO of Brooks Bell Inc. [29:07] Bell said she had to heal, and having cancer was the “superpower” [40:27] that allowed her to step down without shame and do anything she wanted.

—What pushed Bell and Lipson to co-found (with two others) the coworking space and entrepreneurial community HQ Raleigh? When Bell told people from the Silicon Valley crowd at a conference in Aspen that she was from Raleigh, she instantly saw her credibility sink. So, she decided something had to change. [49:50]

You should totally listen! And, of course, subscribe. And last but definitely not least: thank our season sponsor, TriNet!

Or if you’re more of a visual learner, here’s the video:

About Suzanne Blake 362 Articles
Suzanne profiles startups and innovation for GrepBeat. Before working at GrepBeat, Suzanne attended UNC Chapel Hill, obtaining a degree in journalism and political science. Previously, she wrote for CNBC, QSR Magazine, FSR Magazine and The Daily Tar Heel.