Onnastasia Salinas’ Enuf is Enough app seeks to connect victims and survivors of crime to local resources and organizations that can lend a helping hand.
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
Earlier this year, Fresno tattoo artist Channelle Charest had become fed up with a common problem in her line of work.
As a contractor, she arranges her own schedules with clients, but found that there was too much back-and-forth in booking them, be it through calls, texting, or social media. This process was costing her both time and money.
“I thought ‘well, there’s got to be an app out there that will work for my problem,’” Charest said. “I thought, ‘there’s a ton of calendar apps that already exist, there’s got to be one that works for tattooers.’”
After doing some research, however, Charest was surprised to find there wasn’t one that met the criteria she needed. Seeking a solution to her booking issues, and sensing a business opportunity, she reached out to her friend Greg Goforth, a developer at Bitwise Industries. The result of their collaboration was TatStat – an online booking app that lets customers find tattoo artists in their area and book their appointments in a few swipes of the finger.
Their product was entered in this year’s 59 Days of Code competition, taking first place in the “Classic” category, along with a $5,000 prize.
However, TatStat, isn’t the only the only smartphone app being made in Fresno. Since last year, there have been numerous new products to go into development, with purposes ranging from tattoos to ordering food and even fighting human trafficking.
“What we’re seeing in the way folks try and succeed in creating new startups in the mobile applications space is really, really encouraging,” said Jake Soberal, CEO of Bitwise Industries.
Founded in 2013, Bitwise Industries has become the nerve center of Fresno’s emerging tech scene. It’s at Bitwise that two of the primary incubators for the industry’s growth – Geekwise Academy and 59 Days of Code – are housed.
Headed by Bethany Mily, Geekwise has been making efforts to not only educate its own students in coding and software, but to do so in schools in the Valley.
At least one app to emerge from the Geekwise cohorts, Ordrslip, has already hit the markets. Headed by Derek Payton, the food-ordering application launched last year and has found a niche by reaching out to smaller restaurants.
Meanwhile, 59 Days of Code has incentivized many of these students to go through with the creation of their products within a two-month period of time.
And while not every app can win, the 59-day period of development, marketing and design can still result in a viable prototype and a business for them to pursue.
“59 Days of Code was an incredible opportunity for us to get our foot in the door and see what it is really like to produce an application that could be around for a while,” said Onnastasia Salinas of Enuf is Enough. “So it was great to participate, so regardless of whether we won or not, we learned a ton going forward that will definitely be able to use.”
One of two apps entered in the competition to combat human trafficking in the San Joaquin Valley, Enuf is Enough is a marriage of passions for Salinas, who has an educational background in criminology and a love of tech. While the victim database app didn’t take the prize, they now have a live prototype, and have been making inroads with groups like Spirit of Women and Marjaree Mason Center.
“Before we actually included the groups and resources in our product, we had to speak to them directly, just to make sure they were on the same page as we are,” she said. “We got a ton of feedback going forward before we even really decided on what we were going to include in our application.”
The result of the Bitwise inroads and tech growth, according to Soberal, Goforth and Charest, has been a growing influx of out-of-town talent. This includes both new arrivals and those from Fresno who went away and came back as new opportunities opened up in their hometown. This has especially been the case for those from the Bay Area and the Silicon Valley.
“Because Fresno is cheaper to live here, it’s easier to live here, you can live off an income you couldn’t live off of in L.A. or San Francisco that allows people to try and fail,” Charest said. “To see if they can solve a problem, and it doesn’t necessarily wipe them out or eliminate them from that community they’re in.”
Soberal stated that approximately 30 percent of the people working at Bitwise are from outside of Fresno.