The University of Toledo Commencement

Irma Olguin, Jr.

2021 Spring Commencement

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Irma Olguin, Jr.

Irma Olguin, Jr., co-founder and CEO of Bitwise Industries in Fresno, California, is an innovative and inspirational entrepreneur who has emerged as a leading force in an effort to revive economically challenged cities by building a robust technology sector, including a diverse and inclusive tech-workforce and a strong tech-related community ecosystem.

Growing up as the daughter of farm laborers in California’s Central Valley, Olguin says she didn’t expect that going to college would be part of her story. But that was before she boarded a Greyhound bus after finishing high school and travelled to The University of Toledo. There she began her higher education journey in the College of Engineering, discovered her passion and earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering in 2004.

Following a brief career as a high school teacher in computer programming and working as a network technician for a city school district in the Central California Valley, Olguin began to formalize her plans to make coding instruction available to disadvantaged members of the community and build a venture startup that would create high-paying tech jobs in the region.

 In 2013, she and her business partner launched Geekwise Academy, the coding and tech skills boot camp division of Bitwise Industries in downtown Fresno that serves a diverse student population and works with community partners to raise funds that provide students with financial assistance for tuition and access to laptops and internet services. Community partners include school districts, social service organizations, city and state governments, community groups and companies large and small. 

Since then, Bitwise Industries has grown to include a coding academy, a business incubator, software development and a service that matches programmers and engineers with the needs of local businesses, providing a hiring pipeline for Geekwise alumni, half of whom are women and minorities.

Featured last year in Forbes magazine, Bitwise Industries was described as a tech startup venture that had trained over 4,500 workers to code and had secured $27 million in venture capital funding — including funding from venture firms that invest in tech startups that have a social impact mission. Forbescited a valuation of $100 million for Bitwise Industries and an estimated revenue of $20 million in 2019. 

Recently, Bitwise Industries expanded its business model to include other economically challenged cities in California and announced that the company would be going national.  In February, Bitwise industries announced plans for its first location outside of California, with a new campus in the city of Toledo, possibly as soon as 2022.  

 

Last Updated: 10/28/21