Business Monday

20 Under 40: Wifredo Fernandez

WIFREDO FERNANDEZ, 28: “Five years from now, I hope to have put students on a different path. I want to help them transform their lives and give them support that until now has been concentrated in a small segment of Miami.”
WIFREDO FERNANDEZ, 28: “Five years from now, I hope to have put students on a different path. I want to help them transform their lives and give them support that until now has been concentrated in a small segment of Miami.” MIAMI HERALD STAFF

His passion for entrepreneurship will, he hopes, help others succeed.

Age: 28

Occupation: Director of CREATE Accelerator at Miami Dade College; Co-founder of The LAB Miami

Family status: In a relationship

Lives in: Coral Gables

Wifredo Fernandez is among a new generation of Miami businesspeople building a bridge to the new Miami economy. Many in South Florida know him as co-founder and CEO of The LAB Miami, a 10,000-square-foot co-working, incubation and education space in Wynwood. His work and his energy already have earned him a reputation as a humble yet effective leader, mentor and connector.

Now, as director of the CREATE Accelerator at Miami Dade College’s new Idea Center, Fernandez will help develop programming and resources to nurture and accelerate the entrepreneurial ideas of students from the college’s various campuses. Fernandez said he enjoys creating a community of entrepreneurs with new programs, new curriculum and a physical space for like-minded students. He also will collaborate with faculty. “The work we are doing will have a lasting impact,” he said.

Fernandez, who grew up in South Florida, has been an adjunct professor at Miami Dade College since 2012. While teaching a life-skills course, Fernandez said he saw the challenges faced by Miami Dade students but also the grit and hustle they show.

“When I heard the Idea Center was green-lighted, it was the obvious next step for me,” Fernandez said. “It’s a timely challenge to take what I learned from the innovation center at the LAB and create a similar space at the college.

“When people share ideas, special things happen. New relationships are built. New companies are built.”

Before his endeavors in entrepreneurship, Fernandez worked for Teach for America, where he discovered his passion for working with students on big ideas. Eventually, he hopes to build a network of business incubators throughout Miami Dade College’s campuses: “I want to help students take an idea to reality and create new products and solutions that add value to our city and the world.”

From Fernandez: “Five years from now, I hope to have put students on a different path. I want to help them transform their lives and give them support that until now has been concentrated in a small segment of Miami.”

About Fernandez: “With a background in teaching, a passion for technology, and a deep love for the future of Miami, Wifredo is poised to break new ground for the next generation of students and entrepreneurs and ultimately impact the economic ecosystem of Miami and our region.” — Miami attorney Marlon Hill

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