Miami Tech & Startup News

5 things to know in #MiamiTech: How can I (and we) help a school? plus news about Saif Ishoof, Wheels Up, SAP’s accelerator and MDC cybersecurity program

5 things to know in #MiamiTech: How can I (and we) help a school? plus news about Saif Ishoof, Wheels Up, SAP’s accelerator and MDC cybersecurity program

1 How Can I Help? swag sales benefit iTech Academy magnet school

Get your official How Can I Help? t-shirt and help out Miami’s iTech High School at the same time! To spread the #MiamiTech love, go to

During this morning’s #CafecitoChat, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez unveiled the new shop, in partnership with SwagUp, which is covering the costs and fulfillment. T-shirts in two designs are available now for $25 plus shipping, and water bottles, socks and more are coming. Michael Martocci, SwagUp’s CEO, recently moved to Miami and opened a team office. All proceeds of the purchases will fund coding and robotics education at the acclaimed magnet school and its feeder schools, and there is also an easy button to donate additional dollars on the website. Investor Shervin Pishevar, who contributed the design, also stepped up with a $25,000 gift to the magnet school.

“The joy that I find in my job is making sure [my students] leave with more  than a high school diploma,” said iTech Principal LaShinda Moore. “They have all the tools necessary to be successful.”

View the announcement here:

2 Saif Ishoof named mayor’s senior advisor on tech and innovation

OK, I’m late with this item, but this is important news for the ecosystem. In a string of announcements during his State of the City address last week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez named Saif Ishoof as his Senior Advisor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Ishoof, as we all know, is no stranger to #MiamiTech. At FIU, he is VP of Engagement, and as “Miami’s connector-in-chief” has also been a huge promoter of the South Florida tech community and all things Miami. In partnership with FIU, he is taking on this special appointment for a year, in addition to his FIU duties.

 “I am excited to support this novel partnership with the City of Miami. I look forward to bringing my prior experience as an entrepreneur, lawyer and current role as a university administrator in supporting Mayor Suarez’s efforts to unlock Miami’s fullest potential as a robust hub for technology,” Ishoof said in the announcement. Refresh Miami plans to catch up with Ishoof for a deeper debrief soon.

The mayor also announced he appointed City Commissioner Ken Russell to head up a Tech Equity Task Force. Suarez also said he set up a Venture Miami office and announced the rollout of E-Start, the city’s initiative to allow residents to register and launch their own businesses from their iphones.

3 Wheels Up up and away with IPO, with Miami investors on board

Wheels Up announced it was going public — providing a windfall for a group of Mimai investors. According to the Miami Herald, very early investors in Wheels Up, were baseball legends Alex Rodriguez and Mike Piazza;; Miami-based fund Krillion Ventures; transportation executive Thomas Oakley of Polk County; and former Chico’s CEO Scott Edmonds now living Fort Myers.

Wheels Up was Krillion’s first investment, said Managing Partner Melissa Krinzman, on social media. And she couldn’t resist a couple of puns.

“Congratulations to Kenny DichterStephen NitkinJustin Firestone, and the entire Wheels Up team for landing the plane! It’s been an incredible journey,. from assisting with the development of WheelsUp’s original pitch deck to becoming Krillion Ventures’ first investment. Honored to have been along for the ride!”

The New York-based Wheels Up is taking the company public through a SPAC and is slated to begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker UP later this year. Existing shareholders of Wheels Up will roll 100% of their equity into the new share class. Wheels UP has an office in Coral Gables and Firestone, one of the co-founders, is based here. Read more in the Miami Herald here.

4 Learn about SAP.iO virtual accelerator at Miami event

 Are you an enterprise tech startup looking to scale your business? Join  SAP.iO in a Miami virtual event to learn more about how you can work with SAP, one of the largest enterprise tech software companies in the world.

The SAP.iO Foundries are SAP’s global network of equity-free startup accelerators that help promising startups integrate with SAP solutions and accelerate their entry into a curated, inclusive ecosystem whose offerings can be easily accessed and deployed by SAP customers. Since 2017, SAP has  helped 200+ startups accelerate their growth while enabling thousands of SAP customers to access startup solutions.

“My goal is to get more Miami, and Florida in general, startups to apply to our upcoming (virtual) accelerator cohorts [], said Mark Crofton, a VP at SAP, an adjunct entrepreneurship professor at FIU and startup mentor. “These non-equity programs, I believe, can add a lot of value to early stage enterprise tech companies. They provide access to knowledgeable SAP sales executives and product experts.”  

The event is Feb. 11 at 11 am. Register here

[FURTHER READING: ‘Pick up the phone’ and other sales tips: A Q&A with Mark Crofton]

5 MDC and IBM team up on new course

Miami Dade College and IBM are offering a new IBM Cybersecurity Practitioner course designed for those interested in a career as a security analyst. With cyber attacks on the rise, cybersecurity is one of the most in-demand and growing industries across the county. The four-week course is offered at no cost and starts Feb. 8.

“This course will provide students an affordable way to enter the in-demand field of cybersecurity and is another example of our strong partnership with IBM,” said Jorge Ortega, director of MDC’s Cybersecurity Center of the Americas.

The course is open to new and existing students 18 and older with some foundational IT knowledge. It is offered through MDC’s Cybersecurity Center of the Americas and will be 100% online, with content being delivered via a self-paced online platform together with weekly virtual meetings with an instructor. Students who successfully complete the course will earn two IBM digital badges: IBM Enterprise Security in Practice and IBM Security Operations Center in Practice. The course also creates a pathway to more advanced cybersecurity training and badges from the Cybersecurity Center of the Americas.

For more information and to apply, visit

Stay tuned for ….

Miami’s mayor reportedly has a meeting on Friday  with Elon Musk about the “future of Miami.”‘ Musk’s Boring Company has had a couple of meetings with Fort Lauderdale officials about building a rail tunnel under the New River, which Boring says will cost a lot  less than a bridge over it. To see a tunnel in action, officials in Broward plan a visit to Vegas, baby. Of course,  Musk also tweeted Francis Suarez  in the middle of the night about how tunnels could save Miami from its traffic mess. Stay tuned!

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