Miguel Alarcon – or Chiclets as he is affectionately known around the office – began working at Bitwise Industries in April 2013. One glimpse at Alarcon’s pearly whites and you’ll see the resemblance to the old-school, candy-coated gum.
His smile is probably the first thing you’ll notice about him. And, really, it’s quite fitting. His laid back, I-got-this approach is not only impressive, it’s borderline contagious.
When I think of him it makes me smile … because I know he’s smiling,
said Tessa Williamson, who’s worked with Alarcon on a myriad of Bitwise-related projects for the last five years.
That ease and confidence makes Alarcon kind of the perfect person to lead OrdrSlip, a white-label product created last year via Bitwise.
It also explains his bumpy trajectory within the company, from an unsuccessful stint selling websites door to door to chartering the course of one of the most exciting SaaS companies this side of the Bay Area.
His journey to Bitwise began with the most ambiguous referral of all time. “‘I have a friend … I know we might need people and he’s kind of a good dude.’ That’s the background Jake got of me,” smiled Alarcon of the sentence that led to his interview with Bitwise co-founder, Jake Soberal, in early 2013.
He was on the tail end of five and a half years in the Marine Corps when he first learned of the company. “They didn’t know exactly how they were going to fit me in,” Alarcon added, “but if I was willing to move to Fresno and bust my ass doing whatever they needed me to, they’d try me out. I knew I was getting out and just needed to eat, so I thought … why not.”
His first two years in the Marines were spent in Okinawa, Japan before he was stationed in North Carolina where he trained for deployment with Jed Soberal, Jake’s younger brother. “Since I can remember talking, if someone asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up, I’d say I wanted to be in the military,” Alarcon said. “I wanted to play army man.”
Alarcon was born in Long Beach but spent most of his childhood in Texas. Each school year he’d get a brand-new pair of shoes and realized if he didn’t wear them more than he needed to, his kicks would stay clean. A look at his collection (really, it’s a throne of sneakers) shows it’s a habit that stuck. He still owns the pair of Jordans he bought right before he joined the Marines, 11 years ago.
They sit in their original, pristine packaging until he’s ready to wear them for the day – so long as he has a shirt to match the colorway.
“In the second grade I got out of the car to go to school, I stepped in a puddle and it splashed all over my shirt,” he said. “I got back in car and refused to go in until I could go home and change.”
Call it meticulousness, call it painstaking, but precision and an epic amount of care are not unfamiliar territory for Alarcon.
At 19 he joined the Marine Corps, serving as a military policeman in both Japan and the Middle East. In Afghanistan, Alarcon’s main role was to advise the Afghan police and army, training and working alongside them to secure locations and make sure people could sleep safe at night. “I wanted the challenge and the ability to call myself a Marine,” Alarcon said.
Fast forward five years and four roles from the initial Bitwise interview, Alarcon now heads up OrdrSlip’s team of 14 people, ranging from developers to sales and marketing. With each move he’s taken on more responsibility, carving a path paved with both stellar opportunities and hard-earned lessons.
It wasn’t always easy. In truth, it was almost never easy. His very first job at Bitwise was selling websites for Shift3 Technologies. To say it didn’t go well is putting it lightly.
“I sold zero – a hard zero,” Alarcon said. “Not even a maybe.”
“I’ve failed probably every single day,” he added. “I’m not sure if any of us knew that I could confidently make these jobs work, or that anyone could. But it was definitely clear that I would exhaust every means to at least try. I just kept showing up.”
Resilience, passion, grit – it’s basically irrefutable that these things are present in Alarcon’s DNA. Incredible things happen when you let people fumble and bounce around until they find their home base. It develops a culture of empowerment and a workforce of capable, inspired people doing their best work for a cause they believe in.
“I have done everything possible to adopt that same style,” Alarcon said. “Even the people at OrdrSlip – I’m not necessarily giving them the best, I’m saying ‘Hey, can you cut this steak even though I’m only giving you a butter knife?’ I understand there is always a possibility of failure. But, I also have faith they can get through that steak with a butter knife.”
I’ve failed probably every single day,” Alarcon said. “I just kept showing up.
Ciara (my dog) & Ciara (musician)