Fresno is renowned for its agriculture, but there’s so much more to the city than sun dried fruits. There’s a thriving tech startup scene downtown, and many lively bars and restaurants match up to the best that neighbouring cities San Francisco and Los Angeles can offer.
While the Californian climate may not always be cool in Fresno, lots of the companies are. We’ve researched some of the most innovative and successful ones for you to read about below.
Teazer World Tea Market
- Founded: 2003
- Founded By: Ann Wen-yi Liao
- Industry: Hospitality - Food and Drink
- Website: teazerworldteamarket.com
We think Teazer World Tea Market takes the prize for the coolest cuppa in Fresno. It’s also something of a trendsetter. Since founder Ann Liao began business in the Tower District in 2003, several other tea shops have followed.
Fresno locals and visitors love Teazer for its cozy culture. Sit back in their comfy chairs, soaking in the welcoming vibes with a creamy Earl Gray in hand, and you’ll surely see why.
Special feature: An unmatched product range
Teazer stands out with regard to the sheer variety of teas on offer. Friendly staff are happy to make almost any concoction on request. Plus, a huge range of milks and natural sweeteners promises to please any palate. We hear the lavender milk tea alone is worth stopping by for.
- Founded: 2014
- Founded By: Brandon Reid, Ken Koontz
- Industry: Business Analytics
- Website: usebenchmark.com
Benchmark Intelligence is the business analytics brainchild of Ken Koontz and Brandon Reid. These veterans of Fresno’s tech scene raised $570,000 in seed funding to start the most exciting Big Data firm in the city.
Benchmark uses in-house tech and reporting tools to analyze customer feedback for restaurant and retail chains. They look at factors like product quality, customer service and hygiene to help businesses improve their bottom line.
Special feature: Artificial intelligence
Customer feedback is often qualitative and unstructured, making it tricky to analyse at scale. That’s why Benchmark uses IBM Watson Cognitive Computing to help their clients make sense of it all.
Since Benchmark rolled out Watson-enabled insights in 2015, their clients can easily track customer trends across locations. In our books, that’s a big win for any company, let alone one run by a small (but talented) team of five. AI gives Benchmark the edge on its competition, but it’s the people who put this company far above the rest.
Good Company Players
- Founded: 1973
- Founded By: Dan Pessano, Chris Moad, Cathy Glenn and Ronald J Harlan
- Industry: Entertainment
- Website: gcplayers.com
Good Company Players began as a summer theatre troupe in 1973. It soon became one of the most respected theatre companies in the Central Valley. Today, the Players entertain Fresnans with original performances of classic and modern plays.
Many talented locals can also call the Good Company Players their alma mater. They offer musical and theatrical training to Fresnans of all ages, and anyone can audition for their shows.
Special feature: Longevity
In 2013, Good Company Players celebrated 40 years of staging more than 400 amazing shows with a huge red carpet party. Next time you're in town, swing by the prolific performers’ home venue - Roger Rocka’s Dinner Theatre - and see what’s on.
- Founded: 2013
- Founded By: Irma Olguin Jr. and Jake Soberal
- Industry: Education, Startups
- Website: bitwiseindustries.com
Bitwise earns full marks for being Fresno’s finest coding academy-cum-tech incubator. Since arriving on the scene in 2013, Bitwise has hosted more than 100 tech companies at its downtown Fresno campuses.
According to company founders Irma Olguin Jr. and Jake Soberal, they're still just warming up. In Olguin Jr's words, Bitwise wants to be to Fresno what Wayne Enterprises is to Gotham City.
More than 3,000 alumni have benefited from Bitwise coding courses, and several have landed jobs as a result. Bitwise also helps practicing professionals stay connected through frequent software and programming meetups.
Along with education, Bitwise provides software development services to Fortune 500 companies and local firms.
Special feature: Economic uplift
Every new tech job generates an estimated four new jobs. Bitwise believes that its work helps power economic growth for the wider region. The company aims to expand to three new downtown sites by 2018, which should help them attract larger companies to the area.
- Founded: 2017
- Founded By: Tommy Marquez
- Industry: Transportation, Mobile Apps, Ride Sharing
- Website: chasyr.com
Chasyr has lofty ambitions to become “the answer everyone is looking for in the ridesharing industry”. So what exactly sets this startup apart from other industry players, and how do they plan to achieve their goal?
A big part of it has to do with how the platform empowers passengers. Customers can see which journeys drivers near them have completed successfully, and decide who to pick accordingly. Then, rather than accepting a price dictated by the platform itself, users choose how much to offer drivers for trips.
Special feature: Cryptocurrency
Chasyr aims to be the first ridesharing platform to enable payment via the popular Ethereum blockchain. Drivers and riders receive cryptocurrency 'tokens' for joining and completing journey-related milestones.
What’s really nifty is that as people complete more and more journeys, the value of each Chasyr token increases. So if the whole platform does well, the cryptocurrency appreciates in value and everyone benefits. This creates more incentives for drivers to invest in customer service than with other ridesharing platforms.