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Laval Entrepreneur Mentor Program

Field Trip to Bitwise

Written by Marisela Hamm

Jake Soberal, CEO of Bitwise Industries welcomed the Entrepreneur Mentor Program students to the Bitwise Mural District located at 2210 San Joaquin Street on the corner of L Street and San Joaquin. Once a dilapidated building, Bitwise industries bought the building and opened with 10 tech startups. They now have 28 startups in the building with 30 more on the waiting list.

We learned about the exciting things Bitwise Industries is doing in Fresno. There are several divisions under Bitwise Industries. (1) Hashtag located in the Tower District is a 24 hour “collaborative workspace” for techies who pay a nominal fee for a workspace. (2) SHIFT3 Technologies, a software development division which matches corporate projects for freelance developers. (3) Geekwise Academy which equips students with a technical training program in six-week courses building skills they need to compete for a job. Geekwise Academies are also on high school campuses including Edison High, University High, and Fresno High.

The Mentor students also had an opportunity to meet with a panel of five entrepreneurs housed in Bitwise. We heard from Derrick Reimer from the Numa group which develops software and marketing online tools for businesses. David Hardcastle is a serial entrepreneur who is currently working on Lottolishus, a world-wide online lottery pooling. Vincent Wely, a native of France, founder of Ideafy an online brainstorming/idea management application. Mike Pestorich a partner in Swarmbox, an inventory solution for the food and agriculture industry. And Billy Sheng, who comes from Seattle and is founder of Minyawns, an online platform that connects employers with reliable student for short-term to long-term jobs.

The panel offered advice from developing core competencies to selecting a name for a business. Mike Pestorich of Swarmbox said, “Companies last long because they find out what they do and do it well, not necessarily because they have the best product.” The panel was also asked what stirred their entrepreneurial spirit. David Hardcastle stated, “Just knowing you can do a product or service better than anyone else.” The panel was experienced in various industries and the session was invaluable for understanding how to launch a business and succeed

Mr. Soberal and the panel of entrepreneurs made it clear entrepreneurship is not an easy path. It’s not for the faint at heart, but there is almost nothing more self-rewarding than finding something that you truly believe you can do better, and actually accomplishing it. Mr. Soberal and the panelists are a true inspiration and the trip to Bitwise Mural District affirms that if you find something you are passionate about, do it and do it well.

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