Business California's Alternative Featured Nevada City June 28, 2018 BY Barbara Bitner

TraitWare: A Tech Hub Success Story

TraitWare success story for Tech HubThe Nevada County Tech Hub at 104 New Mohawk in Nevada City has been tremendously successful at helping its twelve tenants take their business to the next level. TraitWare is one of those businesses. TraitWare creates software that “simplifies and secures digital lives,” according to 72-year-old CEO and co-founder Bert Spencer. Their software eliminates the threat of compromised login credentials by using a different approach to user authentication and cybersecurity.

Spencer is no stranger to science and technology. When he was in junior high school, he built a computer out of a pinball machine. He later earned a PhD in Physics. After semi-retiring from a successful career in the information technology and services industry, Spencer took over TraitWare, moving it from Visalia to Nevada City. He has never looked back.

Tech Hub Accelerates TraitWare’s Business

TraitWare has benefitted from being part of the Tech Hub in myriad ways. It has helped Spencer raise money to fund his business. “It adds credibility as a startup to be part of the Tech Hub,” he said. “It’s helped us raise $1.5 million – from local Nevada County sources.” Employees take advantage of the training offered at the Connected Communities Academy in the building and network at TechTonic Tuesday events. “There’s synergy in this space,” said Spencer. “A lot of the developers up here don’t realize we are here until they find out about us through TechTonic Tuesday.” TraitWare has not only found employees through the Tech Hub – they found legal help as well. “We’ve got an attorney at the Tech Hub (Eric Little) who has a tremendous amount of experience with start-ups right here in house,” said Spencer. “We would not have had that kind of legal talent, with Bay Area experience, available to us without the Tech Hub.”

The Advantages of Working for a Start-up in the Trees

Danielle Johnson, TraitWare’s Technical Product Manager (among other things), was certainly delighted to discover TraitWare and find work outside of the Bay Area. “Being in the trees instead of people and pollution and traffic — it’s just better for my health,” she said. 31-year-old Johnson, who has dual degrees in computer engineering and dance, also enjoys the flexibility of working at a small company. “I have six different job titles,” she said. “If I get sick of doing one thing, I can move over to another. I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to do. This job gives me the option to encompass all kinds of things.”

Carson Hawley, TraitWare’s 21-year-old Mobile Software Developer, similarly struggled to figure out what he wanted to do for his career. He was working as a landscaper when TraitWare offered to train him in software development and UX design. Spencer has been pleased with the results. “We’ve been able to take people with no training or very little training and allow them to grow,” he said. “Carson learned all of his development work here, and of all the app developers I’ve worked with, I’ve never found anyone better.”

Working at a start-up can be stressful, but TraitWare’s employees make sure it’s still fun. A table full of lava lamps occupies the center of their open floor plan work space. Dillon Lankenau, TraitWare’s 26-year-old Web Developer, studied game development with a focus on art. When he couldn’t find work in that field, he joined TraitWare and has been an integral part of developing the company culture. “It’s been kind of a goal to make working here entertaining,” he said. Now he designs video games in his free time.

The Tech Hub has acted as a catalyst for many of the twelve businesses and organizations that occupy the space. Interested? Stop by next month’s TechTonic on June 19 to learn more and meet the tenants.