Miami Tech & Startup News

'We’re All Gonna Make It' with the help of Miami’s-Connector-In-Chief

‘We’re All Gonna Make It’ with the help of Miami’s-Connector-In-Chief

Saif Ishoof, founder of Lab22c and prominent tech leader, is working to retain talent in Miami while driving impact

By Krysten Brenlla

When you say you’re from Miami, people tend to think we choose to stay because of the iconic restaurants, or the miles of beaches, or even because of the burgeoning #MiamiTech boom we’ve seen for years.

But some, like Saif Ishoof, choose to stay because of the people.

That’s why Ishoof, founder of consulting tech firm Lab22c, former Vice President for FIU’s Office of Engagement, and prominent community leader in South Florida, has worked to build a community of booming talent across all industries and spaces for the past 22 years in the place we call home.

It’s how he got his nickname, Miami’s-Connector-In-Chief, after all.

“I believe that connections, at the end of the day, have to be transformational and not transactional,” Ishoof told Refresh Miami. “Our ability to move and solve important and big problems in our ecosystem comes from taking the time to build relationships of depth, meaning, and purpose.”

A JOURNEY THROUGH MIAMI’S GROWTH AS CITY’S CONNECTOR-IN-CHIEF

Born in Georgetown, Guyana, Ishoof began his Miami career after graduating with his Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law, marking him as one of only a handful of Muslim lawyers in Florida after 9/11.  

A passionate techie and entrepreneur at heart, Ishoof never ended up practicing law – instead, he served as CEO of FCT Technologies and also AgriVerde, a software/internet service provider company which he founded. He then served as the Executive Director at City Year Miami, which provides 17- to 24-year-olds an opportunity to serve one year in high-need schools as tutors, mentors and role models.

As Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s former Senior Advisor for Technology & Innovation, Ishoof worked together with local leadership to transform the South Florida region into America’s next tech ecosystem through a coalitional, data-driven effort.

When major businesses, startups, organizations, and talent across the nation started flocking to South Florida, Ishoof worked with Mayor Suarez to ensure that Miami was ready to seize the moment.

Ishoof with Mayor Suarez

“I felt very fortunate to support Mayor Suarez and witness him understand the combination of Miami’s unique talent, culture, geography, and demography to transform Miami and be a player in the rising opportunities as a hub for American innovation,” says Ishoof. “Leadership at a local level is a catalytic element and is key for transformation.”

FROM FIU LEADERSHIP TO HIS OWN BUSINESS

“There’s also community spaces where, if you can make it out to the Miami Tech Happy Hours in Wynwood, Miami NFT Week led by my good friends Gianni D’Alerta, Ted Lucas, and Erik LaPaglia, or even Lab22c’s Pastelito & Cafecitos, which is a new series we’re launching this September, you can get the support you’re looking for,” he continued.

And now as the founder of Lab22c, Ishoof’s mission is to ensure Miami’s communities, both in the private and public sector and local talent across South Florida, are all gameday ready to make or take those opportunities.

“At Lab, we have two focuses – on one hand, we’re working to upskill our workforce through our partnerships with institutions like Miami Dade College. And on the other hand, we’re working with private companies like OpenStore, MITRE and City National Bank to help them focus on talent, partnerships, brand, and the next generation,” said Ishoof.

“We’re making some intentional investments in the development of our talent and community.”

Saif Ishoof addresses an eMerge Americas audience

Recently, Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE), FIU’s largest technology organization, announced Lab22c as their title sponsor for ShellHacks, Florida’s largest Hackathon. Lab22c is also working with Miami Dade College to host their inaugural Web3 Conference, where students and the community can come together to learn about Web3, cryptocurrency, and blockchain. And the firm is planning to host the Miami Moonshot Awards, a unique ceremony that recognizes Miami’s talent, September 22.

“Our work at Lab22c gets to operate at the nexus between the talent and the businesses that have the values and are willing to resource the endeavor of connecting and growing in our region,” continued Ishoof.

For the future, Ishoof and his all-women team are looking forward to scaling their impact, both geographically and in support of industries like clean-tech and health-tech.

“I’m working to be a bridge for people that might not have had the same opportunities I’ve had, and that’s why I love being in a city where we look around and we see people committed to learning and growing together every single day.”

Ishoof, shown with Miami Dade College President Madeline Pumariega, was selected as a Presidential Fellow

READ MORE ON REFRESH MIAMI: Florida’s largest hackathon is back this week: 5 things to know about ShellHacks

Krysten Brenlla