If you’re into technology, software, computer programming, frequently drive around Downtown Fresno or simply keep up on local news – Bitwise is likely a familiar name to you. However, if the name is familiar but you don’t truly know exactly what’s happening at Bitwise – it’s time to change that, right away.
Bitwise 101: What is Bitwise All About?
Six years ago, Irma Olguin and Jake A. Soberal founded Bitwise as a hub for incubating careers in the booming industry of technology. Olguin and Soberal believed Fresno could be the next Silicon Valley (or even better!). At Bitwise, Valley residents can:
- Learn how to code (write in computer programming languages), gain skills to prepare for jobs in technology fields that are currently in high demand and growing rapidly (the school part of Bitwise is called “Geekwise Academy”)
- Start their own business and house it in Bitwise’s buildings, amongst other, growing tech-based businesses (business incubator)
- Work with Shift3 Technologies, which is a company that pairs senior professionals with entry-level programmers to develop solutions for global companies
Their model not only worked, it EXPLODED. Since its founding just six years ago Bitwise
- produced more than 1,000 new software developers
- attracted over 200 technology companies to its facilities
- contributed to the creation of thousands of jobs in the region
- and, turned 250,000 sq. ft of previously blighted downtown buildings into desirable commercial real estate! (Including Bitwise 41, which will become FresYes’s second location!)
What’s The Latest Bitwise News?
On Wednesday, June 19th, Bitwise announced they successfully secured $27 million dollars as part of its Series A financing led by Kapor Capital and New Voices Fund. The funding also includes a major investment by the Quality Jobs Fund, a project of the New World Foundation seeded by the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.
This represents one of the largest Series A ever raised by a Latinx female-led company. “Fundraising milestones like these are monumental for women of the Latinx community, and I hope the size of what we’ve done is soon eclipsed by the next female or person of color. This country is filled with stories similar to mine – people from underserved communities, who never thought these kinds of opportunities would be accessible to them,” said Irma L. Olguin Jr., CEO and co-founder, Bitwise Industries.
If you are like me and not familiar with the term “Series A” I learned from Startup.com it’s a type of funding that businesses receive from larger scale investors after the have created a start up that has shown promise. Typically, Series A funding ranges from between $2 million to $15 million, so a Series A of $27 million is astounding and very exciting!
The funders behind this surge of investment shared the following about their views on the Bitwise model. “Bitwise has significantly improved economic and community outcomes in Fresno,” said Colin Greer, president of the New World Foundation. “Through the resources made available to us through the generosity and commitment of the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco, the Quality Jobs Fund is excited to invest in Bitwise so they can create similar results in new communities.”
“The company’s approach of weaving together training and education with software development and commercial activity in a common physical space has proven to revitalize communities while also successfully addressing the growing skills gap in the tech industry,” said Mitchell Kapor, Partner at Kapor Capital. “Our investment in Bitwise is based on our shared belief that genius can be found anywhere, but until opportunity has the same reach, we need companies like Bitwise that will take action to close that gap.”
What will Bitwise use the $27 million to do?
Expand! “This investment will further Bitwise’s ability to make what was serendipity in my life far more common. By connecting people from marginalized places to the skills they need to enter the technology industry, and by surrounding them with vibrant and inclusive spaces, we will transform communities,” said Olguin.
Bitwise is currently housed in three large buildings in Downtown Fresno, and soon to be 4. Up next? Bakersfield!
We at FresYes can’t wait to see how Bitwise continues to create one of the biggest and brightest tech hubs in the country, right here in our backyard. Huge congrats to Olguin, Soberal and the Bitwise team!
How to Get Involved
- Want to take courses at Geekwise Academy? Check them out here.
- Want to house your startup at Bitwise? Click here.
- Want to work for Shift3 of hire them to fulfill your development need? Click here.
To Fresno’s best and brighest!
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