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Hashtag relocates to new basement digs in downtown Fresno

Bitwise Industries CEO Jake Soberal, standing, talks with Hashtag Fresno member Richard Sargent and Jona Agcaoili, seated right, on the rooftop patio area at the Hashtag’s new location in the Hotel Virginia building. Agcaoili was the designer/decorator for Hashtag’s new site that opened April 12.
Bitwise Industries CEO Jake Soberal, standing, talks with Hashtag Fresno member Richard Sargent and Jona Agcaoili, seated right, on the rooftop patio area at the Hashtag’s new location in the Hotel Virginia building. Agcaoili was the designer/decorator for Hashtag’s new site that opened April 12. tsheehan@fresnobee.com

Hashtag, a membership-based collaborative workspace for budding technology entrepreneurs, has moved into its third different location since it was founded in Fresno’s Tower District about six years ago.

The two-block move from the Bitwise South Stadium building at Van Ness Avenue and Mono Street into the basement of the Hotel Virginia on Kern Street between Van Ness and L Street more than doubles its available space to about 5,000 square feet. That doesn’t count a few hundred more square feet on a second-floor rooftop patio that contributes to Hashtag’s already laid-back vibe.

Bitwise Industries co-CEO Jake Soberal said the relocation was necessary because in less than two years, Hashtag’s membership outgrew the 2,400-square-foot space it occupied at South Stadium. Hashtag provides drop-in spaces, including different configurations of desks, easy chairs, booths or stand-up tables where people can work individually or in teams.

“We’re just bubbling up over 200 members,” he said. “This allows us to take on more members and expand the amenities for our members.”

This shows that we can do exciting things with basements in downtown.

Jake Soberal, Bitwise Industries co-CEO

Jona Agcaoili, an artist and Bitwise’s “design strategist,” transformed the concrete basement into an area with bright colors and custom-made furniture, and Soberal said there are plans to cut sidelights at the top of the walls to provide natural light. It includes a receptionist, high-speed wifi, a small kitchen area, and three small conference rooms, each named for a prominent artist.

The rooftop space, in the process of being furnished, includes patio furniture, a hammock and two cornhole games to break the monotony of work.

“This shows that we can do exciting things with basements in downtown,” Soberal said.

There is limited dedicated parking for Hashtag members at Bitwise on a first-come, first-served basis; otherwise, members can find street parking or nearby parking lots that charge on a daily basis. Standard Hashtag membership is $39 per month or $399 per year.

“So far, the members all love it,” said Talisha Brantley, Bitwise’s community liaison who handles membership care and recruitment for Hashtag. “They’ve gotten to see it transform from a bare basement to what it is today.”

“It’s like a Starbucks without a barrista,” said Brantley – herself a former Starbucks barrista – referring to people who spend hours nursing a latte for hours at a time to use the coffeehouse’s free wifi.

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