Bitwise Industries announced its expansion into five new states Wednesday morning. File photo
Written by Ben Hensley
Bitwise Industries announced today its plans to expand by opening locations in New York, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, helping spread Bitwise’s already innovative business model across the country.
Opening first in Fresno in 2013, Bitwise was founded with the goal of bringing people from underprivileged communities into the tech industry, providing both training and employment opportunities for students and employees.
“We started Bitwise Industries nearly a decade ago with the hope of helping our local community and since then, Bitwise has positively impacted thousands of lives, driven economic growth in underestimated cities, and is creating the tech workforce of the future,” said Jake Soberal, CEO and co-founder of Bitwise Industries.
Of the staff that works in the Fresno Bitwise location, nearly all of them are from the Fresno area, according to Thilani Grubel, Vice President of Bitwise Fresno.
The expansion cities announced today include Greeley, Colorado; El Paso, Texas; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Cheyenne Wyoming and Buffalo, New York. As it has done in its other homes, Bitwise renovates blighted historical buildings. The company has already transformed nearly a million square feet of downtown commercial space in its markets, and intends to do in the expansion cities.
Bitwise Industries’ goal has always been to bring education and workforce development to underprivileged communities. The company uses pre existing buildings to house their education and employment centers with a goal of helping revitalize communities.
“We don’t want to go to San Francisco, LA, Atlanta — these are cities that are doing well,” said Grubel. “We specifically target cities that have a ton of potential, but they just don’t have enough of the investment to reach that potential.”
Bitwise operates one of the largest federally accredited apprenticeship programs in the country, allowing the business to compensate members working apprenticeships, in addition to paying staff and maintaining workforce-training programs.
They have trained more than 8,000 non-traditional tech students, seeing 80% of those earning technical employment, with students boosting their earnings potential from an average of $20,000 upon entering the program, to $60,000 by their exit.
“As we expand across the country we look forward to supercharging our efforts with the cities we currently serve and getting started in new communities,” said Irma Olguin Jr., CEO and co-founder of Bitwise Industries. “Bitwise is a vehicle that has transformed lives and cities.”
In addition to educating and providing jobs in the tech industry, Bitwise also renovates historical buildings, as opposed to constructing their own centers from the ground up. Bitwise has transformed a combined total of nearly 1 million square feet of blighted commercial space, and plans to do the same in their new host cities.
The expansion will double the number of locations served, jumping from five locations to ten, and will also expand Bitwise into seven states.
“With this expansion, the demonstrated impact of Bitwise Industries can now be shared with millions more underrepresented people across the country,” said Mitchell Kapor, partner at Kapor Capital, one of Bitwise’s investors. “Bitwise is expanding economic opportunities to reach the most vulnerable by creating accessible and attainable pathways to quality jobs.”
Kapor Capital is just one of 11 investors in Bitwise, with others including Gingerbread Capital, M&T Bank and JP Morgan.
“We look forward to helping more people left out of the digital economy to find financial independence and stability through increased employment opportunities, while bringing government digital infrastructure into the modern era with world-class software developed by the overlooked people we train and hire,” Olguin Jr. said.
“We’ve been able to prove that our business model works in all of these underdog cities,” Grubel said. “We’ve got a ton of investment which lets us figure out how we can best serve folks.”
“I would imagine that over the next year we’re going to see a lot of new and exciting things coming from this company.”