Irma Olguin Jr.
Co-founder and CEO, Bitwise Industries
Irma Olguin Jr. is a Central California native that comes from a long-line of fieldworkers. Through a series of serendipitous events and a lot of hard work she was accepted to the University of Toledo and received a full-ride scholarship. In order for Irma to get to college she recycled cans for months to afford the bus ticket that would transport her to Ohio. After graduation she was determined to return home where she could provide similar opportunities to people within her community.
In 2010, Irma created 59DaysOfCode, a competition to challenge the notion that Fresno did not have the talent or infrastructure needed to create a competitive technology hub. This annual software competition is bringing together Valley coders to compete to create websites and mobile apps, as well as develop technological solutions to real-life-problems such as the California’s water crisis. She also co-founded Hashtag, a local coworking space for designers and developers, and Edit LLC, a data solution platform for agricultural businesses.
By 2013, Irma was creating spaces and initiatives for technology where they had never existed locally. However, she didn’t want to stop there. She wanted to help others who might be in the same position she was when she went to college—people just like her who may not have the means to go to college to improve their economic station but plenty of motivation to do so. That year, she co-founded Bitwise Industries, a company whose mission is to uplift people in disadvantaged communities by way of the technology industry. The company provides individuals the skills to enter the tech industry, while also building a place for community, innovation and inclusion. By creating this tech ecosystem, she has been able to serve over 5,000 students, 80% of whom have acquired a tech job.