Tapping the persuasive power of free beer and a live DJ, Fresno tech catalyst Bitwise Industries followed last month's big splash in Bakersfield with a more intimate event in downtown Wednesday introducing its software development arm, Shift3 Technologies, to local businesses, educators and government agencies.
Company co-founder Jake Soberal said the idea behind inviting dozens of local leaders to a low-profile venue Bitwise has inhabited for months at 1910 19th St. was to reach out to potential customers while also helping establish itself as a "citizen of the local ecosystem" — tech-speak for Bakersfield's existing community of computer coders and technology entrepreneurs.
Among the biggest news to come of the event was Soberal's prediction Shift3 will hire eight local tech people to work at the combination coding-education, software development and coworking space Bitwise expects, as it announced last month, to open early next year.
"We're looking for partners from all sides," said Shift3's sales and marketing executive director, Landon Brokaw.
Business leaders again voiced enthusiasm for Bitwise's plans, this time not only for its pledge to bring overlooked, local talent into the tech fold but also for its proposal to design and sell custom software to local businesses.
Already Shift3 has local customers, including business-process outsourcing company Stria. Scott D. Garrison, the Bakersfield-based company's vice president of sales and marketing, said the two firms have partnered to produce customer software for an unnamed local customer.
Garrison said he found Shift3 to be competent and very professional, and that Bitwise itself sees the "whole picture" of meeting industry's software needs.
"I think the real success happens when you connect the visionary with the developers," the said. "They can make good ideas come to life."
That kind of approach can only raise the bar for the local business community and workforce, said Molly Busacci, owner of Bakersfield alarm company Secure Systems, who like Garrison was among those gathered to Wednesday's event.
She predicted Shift3's arrival will ripple across Bakersfield and "pull people up."
Bakersfield entrepreneur Morgan Clayton, also joining Wednesday's friendly gathering, was hopeful Shift3's efforts to help local companies expand their tech platforms would dovetail well with Bitwise's broader goal of training new software developers.
The result, he said, could be that local industry no longer has to look outside Kern County for technical expertise.
"If you build it in Kern it stays in Kern," he said.
Kern Economic Development Corp. Vice President Cheryl Scott was equally enthusiastic about prospects for creating opportunities for the next generation of local coders.
As it is, too many have to leave town to pursue their careers, she said, adding that Bitwise's local introduction "is a huge first step."
Soberal said Wednesday's event will be followed by similar meet-and-greet events, and that Shift3 intends to maintain a local presence up to and after Bitwise finds a home downtown next year.