SCOTT BURTON • BE AWESOME
Read how a local business owner and software engineer recognized his need for face-to-face collaboration + the challenge in Bakersfield that lead him to a creative solution for himself and other professionals.
Scott Burton • Mesh CoWork
I’m originally from Bakersfield, and, other than living in Oakland for a while, I’ve lived here most of my life. I’m the CEO and Senior Software Architect for OnStack, and I also co-founded a collaborative workspace called Mesh CoWork. The nature of my job in the tech industry allows me to work remotely, so I don’t have to physically be in an office every day. I’ve worked for companies based out of San Francisco, Arizona & Salt Lake City. The opportunity to travel has been fun, and I’ve been fortunate to see different cities and cultures. But I always get homesick for Bakersfield. I often miss my friends and family—even strangers I’m used to seeing around town. Our community has strong relationships, and I think that’s what keeps bringing people back. I’ve realized my need for people and good relationships, and I need a good amount of collaboration in my work environment.
One of the challenges of living in Bakersfield and working in technology is finding work locally. Remote work can be easy to find. For the most part, tech companies will allow employees to work from your home rather than the office. But because we don’t have many tech companies in Bakersfield, I have few options other than working remotely. There are some out of town companies who prefer all employees to reside in their base city. In those cases, tech employees in Bakersfield have to pass up positions that could have been great career opportunities.
For about fifteen years, I worked with teams all over the world from my home office and had only met co-workers once or twice a year in person. There’s a certain amount of loneliness in remote work. I missed in-person relationships. For about a year, I had the opportunity to work for a local tech company before they moved out of state. It was so refreshing! Being in an office stimulated my workflow and productivity. Talking to people face-to-face and being able to come together to meet about ideas and problem solving made a great work environment.
Tabari Brannon and I started Mesh CoWork so we can have this type of work life again. There’s a lot of inspiration and team dynamics that happen when you’re in the presence of other people--it’s just not the same within an online messaging channel. We wanted to bring this to other professionals in Bakersfield who were facing the same challenges with their remote jobs.
And Mesh isn’t just for tech. The collaborative workspace is ideal for freelancers, students, startups and any kind of small business. Tabari and I saw a problem and weren’t afraid to hustle and face it head on. We realized the challenges with remote work, and we created a solution that has proven to be a success for our town.
There are other challenges for tech professionals in Bakersfield. Fortunately, we have the potential to rise above the challenges and the space for the problem solvers. One challenge is the need for a successful technology company based in Bakersfield.
I’d love to see a home run company take off here. Not that we don’t have great companies in town, but we need a great technology company like never before. I attended a start-up conference one weekend, and some really great ideas around technology were discussed. It would be awesome to see one of those ideas come to fruition. People in Bakersfield need to know what is possible. It just takes one to succeed to show everyone else--especially the next generation of young people who need to see successful companies thriving. It tells them, “Hey! Look what you can do! See what you can be part of in Bakersfield.” A home run software company needs to be born here and grow here.
For this to happen, we still need more support. We have a lot of pieces to the puzzle, but a few more are needed to put it all together. We need more involvement from our local government, help in financing, and other resources to see a great idea get off the ground. I think in the future it will be there. It’ll take some time and it’ll take some people, but the pieces will come together for the collective good and the grand vision of what Bakersfield could provide.
My hope for my fellow friends in Bakersfield is to be the best you can within whatever circumstance you find yourself. Hustle through it. Hustling through obstacles is a big deal. I respect people who come to me and tell me not only what they’re going to do but also the things they’ve just done. It shows they have initiative to go out and make things happen. This is what makes people awesome. And in order to succeed at anything in life, I think you just have to be awesome.