For Jake Soberal, co-founder and co-CEO of Bitwise Industries, the clouds are a destination and the city of Fresno has started its journey. It all begins by developing the “tech geeks” of the Central San Joaquin Valley.
Soberal showcased “How to Fix America’s Most Broken City, the Bitwise Story” to the public in the Henry Madden Library on Jan. 20. The presentation outlined the tech company’s growth so far and the encouraging road ahead.
“We’re seeing something going on in Fresno that, to most, would be unexpected and that is the growth of the technology industry,” Soberal said. “We see companies growing and doing world class things. We see individuals who are of the highest caliber doing innovative things right here in Fresno, but we’re still living in the dichotomy of Fresno [that] doesn’t know about this.”
Soberal’s mission to expose the growth occurring in the city and to assist it in various forms.
While Bitwise Industries began as a sanctuary for startup tech companies, the vision of the company as described by Soberal is to see growth in the education of aspiring technologists in the Valley.
“I want you to zero in on the experience of being a geek in this place. You have been told for your entire life that your dream doesn’t exist in Fresno,” Soberal said. “So we knew that when we opened this thing it had to be big. We had to celebrate that person. There’s an emotion behind it. They’ve sort of arrived.”
Bitwise offers classes and workshops through Geekwise Academy so techies like Karla Moreno, a computer science student at Fresno State, can gain knowledge and connections.
“I’ve participated in the Valley DevFest and it was held at Bitwise Industries,” Moreno said. “We met a lot of people that work there, and they do so much. I really enjoyed all of the workshops so it’s nice to see how they started.”
“There were Chrome developer tools and speakers from Google,” said Dulce Meza-Flores, another computer science student at Fresno State. “There were [workshops] about creating apps without internet connections.”
“[The classes] are affordable and afterwards if you do a great job, you’ve got some connections and they could hire you,” said Moreno.
The effort doesn’t just include college students. Bitwise Industries has connected with Fresno Unified to provide transportation to students interested in the technological field to Geek Academy to expand their education. This results in a more prosperous economy within the city.
“If we are going to create the best version of this city then we have to create along with that economic prosperity a different sort of culture in Fresno,” Soberal said. “We can be different. We’ve done it before.”
Through its inclusive demeanor, Bitwise Industries looks to advance not only the skills of citizens of Fresno, but the city as a whole.
Soberal said, “When you walk through the doors what you hear most commonly is ‘this doesn’t feel anything like Fresno’ and we immediately sort of retort, ‘no, this feels exactly like Fresno, just a better version.’”