The Hashtag: My Office Away from the Office Working & Creating in Community

Mar 31, 2018 | 2018 Articles, Community, Tom Sims

by Tom Sims

In December, I was awakened by the Fresno Fire Department at 3 a.m. with news that my office was on fire. When I arrived, I discovered only rubble. I have been out of my office since then, wandering from desk to desk, coffee shop to coffee shop, and from Uber to The Hashtag in downtown Fresno on Kern Street.

That is right, I joined The Hashtag, and when the remodel of my office is complete, I will continue to be a member. I found a community of people who share a work space, occasionally share ideas, and always share friendly nods of recognition as they enjoy comfortable and stimulating surroundings, reliable internet, 24-hour access, proximity to the energy of downtown and Bitwise’s dynamic incubator, and wonderful places to eat.hashtag

My price tag: $39 a month. There are some additional and optional charges and another level of participation, but this works for me. I have all the space I need, privacy with the energy of others working around me, coffee on demand, and even a rooftop patio where I can go to think. Membership comes with a code that lets me in at any time and access to conference rooms at a small additional charge. Actually, the first hour of use comes at no extra charge.


Inside Hashtag

I wrote a review of The Hashtag some years ago when it was in the Tower District. I was impressed then, but the concept was new and the development was in its infancy. I can testify that this movement has come a long way since then. These days, The Hashtag is a division of Bitwise Industries, self-described as “…the mothership of technological education, collaboration, and innovation in Fresno.”


Hashtag patio

Irma Olguin, Jr., the founder of The Hashtag is co-founder of Bitwise with Jake Soberal. She and her Hashtag staff, Carley Feil, Angelica Cano, and Sandi Olguin recently fielded a series of questions from me about the community they are developing on Kern Street in the hub of Fresno’s emerging downtown.

How has the transition from a Tower to a downtown base effected the community that gathers around The Hashtag? Were many of the members able to follow you downtown?

We’ve found that it’s less about a loyalty to Tower or downtown and more about the die-hard coworking space user vs. the user that only needs the space for a month. We have learned that it doesn’t matter where we plant ourselves or our internet connection, there is still the same amount of turnover. We have bloggers that refuse to work out of their home and Hashtag is the only place they feel inspired to get work done. If we put Hashtag in Visalia, they’d probably still be there.hashtag

You have more space, capacity, and amenities now, it seems. Are you getting any feedback on that?

Absolutely, and we welcome all of it. Our current location at the Hotel Virginia has enabled us to transform one of the most historic spots in downtown Fresno to a really innovative, approachable space with the latest in technology. Another great perk of the space is that we’ve been able to create unique, defined areas for people to work from. Someone might get the most out of a more enclosed area, while others are more inclined to collaborate and chit chat. Plus, this location drops Hashtag in the middle of a very vibrant spot of downtown. Something we hear a lot is how close we are to what downtown has to offer, including numerous places to eat within walking distance.hashtag

How much room for growth do you have at this location?

We’re running into capacity issues at the current space and actively exploring what a future expansion looks like.

How does the proximity and affiliation with Bitwise’s campus create additional energy, synergy, and collaboration?

We absolutely consider Hashtag an impactful and important part of the Bitwise campus. The short walk from Hashtag between Bitwise South Stadium means that our members and tenants stay connected to the events and the overall awesomeness that happens every day at the two spots. Tenants and team members work out of Hashtag. Hashtag members host events at South Stadium. It all creates a really cool symbiotic environment.

When describing the Hashtag as a community (assuming you do), how does that flesh itself out? Are there any relationships or collaborations you would cite as having developed because of this shared space?

We not only describe Hashtag as a community, we cite it as the best perk of the space. Our membership is made up of an eclectic mix of people from all walks of life. Any day of the week you’re working next to masters of all kinds of trades. Technologists, builders, attorneys, entrepreneurs, writers – they are able to exist side-by-side at the Hashtag. That much wisdom in one space allows for some really cool things to happen.hashtag

We’ve partnered with COMMON SPACE, Her Space, Workspace, and Root Access Hackerspace to create the super team of coworking spaces. We’ve got something in the works for National Coworking Week in August.

We’ve housed some great events at Hashtag, which found us partnering with local artists on ArtHop, photographers for photoshoots, and have even had a few members lead workshops in their fields.

What role do you see community work-spaces playing in cities as we go forward? How about in Fresno? Can you address your own plans for expansion?

Coworking spaces across the nation and world have become somewhat of community-oriented brain trusts in their cities. The convenience is the initial draw, but lifelong members stay for the impact on community and quality of eavesdropping.

In Fresno, in particular, we’ve seen that proven to be true. We also have a slightly different angle in that we want to provide a really accessible, non-threatening way to enter the Bitwise community. People often think they have to be a Geekwise student or work for Shift3 Technologies to be involved. Hashtag provides that opportunity for a great many people.

Our intention is to continue to operate and grow Hashtag so long as it serves the community in providing that low-cost, useful, community-oriented space. It started with an idea. Sandi is now responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the physical space, as she is with the rest of the buildings.

What sorts of people would benefit from what The Hashtag offers?

Hashtag is a really interesting environment where a ton of people collide. Freelancers, small business owners, students, teachers, etc. A lot of our members are people who work from home on their own business. For a lot of folks, working from home is too distracting of an environment to be productive.

More information is available on their website and on Facebook and on Twitter.

Hashtag Community Workspace
2125 Kern St.
Fresno, CA, 93721
(661) 549-3231

Tom Sims is a local pastor (and Grandpa!), writer, and blogger. His congregation, “The Fellowship of Joy,” is part of a larger collaborative called “4141 Ministries,” of which he is Executive Director & he is an active Toastmaster. You can also find him on Facebook.



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