Cultivating tech talent in underserved communities
Company: Bitwise Industries is a for-profit, mission driven company delivering Salesforce managed services, Docusign, and custom SaaS solutions while developing the most representative tech talent in the country, at scale. Bitwise partners with organizations across sectors to create innovative solutions globally, delivering clear business benefits that are directly cutting costs, increasing productivity and driving revenue. Centering its efforts in the heart of cities’ downtown areas, Bitwise becomes an economic driver for the region, fueling the creation of thousands of jobs.
HQ Location & Year Founded: Fresno, CA, 2013
Founders: Jake Soberal, Co-founder and Co-CEO (interviewed), is an impact-focused entrepreneur who had a vision for Bitwise and started the company together with his co-founder after serving as an intellectual property attorney in Fresno for two years. He holds a degree in political science and history from UNC Chapel Hill and a law degree from Western State College of Law.
Irma Olguin Jr., Co-founder and Co-CEO, oversees the strategy and operations of the company. Irma is a serial entrepreneur with years of IT experience. She graduated with a degree in computer science and engineering from the University of Toledo.
Funds Raised and VC Investors: $100 million from 10X Capital, Acumen America, Aera VC, Backstage Capital, Candide Group, Cap Table Coalition, GingerBread Capital, Hard Yaka, Highfield Capital, Impact Assets, JP Morgan Chase, Kapor Capital, Keiretsu Forum, Kern Venture Group, Lumina Impact Ventures, Motley Fool Ventures, New Voices, Pi Investments, Plum Alley Investments, Portfolia, Reach Capital, Western Technology Investment
Where did the idea for Bitwise originate?
We are both descendents of Latinx immigrants with lived experiences that prove how transformative the technology industry can be in the lives of those from underserved backgrounds. This informed how and why we built Bitwise Industries with the purpose of leveraging the technology industry to open opportunities to people who had previously been gated out. When people are welcomed and provided an inclusive and supportive environment, they are able to change the trajectory of their lives, their families, and ultimately their communities.
What is the key problem that Bitwise intends to solve?
Our company has always been about putting people first. We are leveraging one of the fastest growing industries in the world to open doors and place people on a path toward high wage, high growth jobs. We accomplish this by delivering world-class Salesforce managed services, Docusign and custom SaaS solutions to partners globally.
We find locations in overlooked cities and hire non-traditional talent, becoming an integral part of that region's economies by driving massive growth and motivating job creation. These cities haven’t historically had access to tech jobs and its opportunities. Beyond developing tech talent that can support its operations and other tech needs in the area, our company helps push the digital transformation of local organizations, bringing them into the online economy.
How are you most differentiated as a service?
For nearly a decade, Bitwise Industries has developed the most diverse tech talent at scale across the country. As a mission driven company, we have developed tech experts from underrepresented backgrounds that can deliver solutions to clients, providing real business benefits. We have developed a system that can fill our own talent pipeline and third party organizations with developers from overlooked places. While the industry at large has invested over a billion dollars in creating a representative workforce with no real substantive movement in employee demographics, we’ve accomplished this at a fraction of the cost with impressive results.
What are the company’s key accomplishments to date?
We’re proud of our rapid growth since we first opened in Fresno in 2013. We’re now in seven states, coast to coast — and we started our national expansion at the peak of the pandemic. We have raised over $100M in venture capital. We continue to bring in more talent and provide world-class software solutions for our clients. We tripled in company size and revenue. The number of partners we work with has grown and continues to add value to the work we do. We have been recognized by countless organizations for the work that we have done over the past year such as Fast Company, Inc., the Forum on Workplace Inclusion and Great Place to Work. In 2022 alone the company won 34 awards.
What lies ahead in the plans for Bitwise?
We nearly doubled the number of Bitwise locations in 2021, and we’re continuing to look at cities across the country where our services can help fill workforce gaps. We’re always looking at ways we can provide more value to clients as well, whether we are providing Salesforce, Docusign or custom software solutions for them.
It is no secret that the wealth gap in the US and globally is driven in large part by a skills and education gap. Breaking out of a cycle of poverty is nearly impossible without the benefit of the tools and knowledge to succeed professionally and generate a comfortable and increasing standard of living. The market for talent in software and IT has proven to be nearly insatiable even through economic cycles of the past few decades. With that in mind, training more and more people, especially those who come from less privileged backgrounds, will both help uplift this talent economically, but will also make their communities and society at large better off. The US is a knowledge and services-based economy where STEM education is vital and innovation will continue to drive the country forward. Everyone benefits as a new generation of previously untapped talent joins these ranks. Bitwise Industries is one of the pioneering companies that will lead this movement, scaling its way up one community at a time.