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When Marcus Bullock was 15 years previous, he decided that may change the course of his life. He and a good friend carjacked a person in a shopping center car parking zone. He was arrested and sentenced to eight years in an grownup maximum-security jail. “I used to be in denial and have become very depressed throughout these first two years,” Bullock, who’s now founder and CEO of Flikshop, he says. “I could not course of and settle for the truth that I might find yourself having to serve your complete eight-year sentence.”
Throughout one go to, Bullock’s mom made a promise to her son that may later function the inspiration for Flikshop. “Marcus, I’ll write you a letter or ship you an image on daily basis for the remaining six years of your sentence,” she informed him. Bullock credit his mom with saving his life. “These photos, these letters, saved me,” he says. “It was the small and large issues she shared with me that gave me a transparent imaginative and prescient of what my life would appear to be after jail. My life was removed from over.”
Flikshop is named after “fliks,” which is what Bullock and his pals known as photos in jail. He began Flikshop to do for a lot of what his mom did for him: Maintain each particular person in each cell related to their relations and different group sources, so that they can also envision their life after jail.
The Flikshop cellular app and web site permit customers to ship a photograph and message to a cherished one in jail, which Flikshop will print on a postcard and ship on to the incarcerated particular person. It prices simply $ 0.99 (together with postage) and is delivered on to them.
The postcard is perforated, to allow them to tear off the message and maintain the be aware non-public. Then they’ll share the photograph with others. At present, Flikshop has shipped postcards into all 50 states and has related greater than 170,000 households. John Legend is a monetary supporter of Flikshop by means of his group #FREEAMERICAwhich he began to assist rework America’s felony justice system.
Picture credit score: Flikshop
“Footage and letters are the a method for these in jail to know there are nonetheless folks within the exterior world who look after them,” Bullock says. “For me, these letters have been a reminder of the life that was ready for me.”
Listed here are three classes Marcus Bullock has discovered from constructing Flikshop:
“I spotted doing a TED Discuss would grow to be my enterprise card.”
“From a younger age, I used to be at all times a talker,” Bullock says. “My household at all times mentioned, ‘Marcus is at all times speaking about one thing!’ And in some ways, I’m that very same Marcus right now. “
He remembers the thrill he felt as a younger boy taking part in his annual college fundraiser. He was decided to speak to as many individuals as attainable and promote probably the most sweet bars, which he did.
As a founder, Bullock underestimated how his penchant for storytelling would assist him launch Flikshop. “Once I was requested to do my first TED Discuss, I used to be reluctant as a result of I did not contemplate myself a public speaker, “he says.” After which I spotted it was a strong alternative to share my story on stage and construct the Flikshop model. That TED Discuss turned my final enterprise card. “
Bullock remembers standing on that stage, publicly sharing his story of going to jail for the primary time. And he was scared. “My recommendation to entrepreneurs is to not let concern maintain you again. That TED Discuss was my alternative to construct empathy and understanding for an expertise that most individuals do not overtly talk about – how one can assist family members who’re incarcerated.”
“I listened to each piece of recommendation alongside the best way.”
Bullock launched Flikshop in 2012 as a result of he needed to be extra diligent about his promise to ship his pals in jail photos of his reentry journey. “I had no concept what I used to be doing,” he says. “I by no means imagined that I might launch a tech firm. I Googled ‘how one can construct a cellular app,’ and the journey started.”
Bullock credit his success to his starvation for studying and to being open and listening to each piece of recommendation alongside the best way. He remembers attending workplace hours a legislation agency in DC was internet hosting for founders. He confirmed up asking query after query and confirmed he was genuinely open to the entire recommendation he was given.
Attending these workplace hours was how he was launched to Techstars, a Boulder, Colo.-based startup accelerator. “That funding and assist allowed me the flexibility to deal with rising Flikshop full time in 2018,” Bullock says. “I would not be right here with out the entire supporters who gave me teaching and steerage alongside the best way.”
“I’m constructing generational wealth.”
Flikshop isn’t Bullock’s first enterprise into entrepreneurship. He constructed a profitable portray enterprise when he left jail after which went on to construct a building firm. He initially bootstrapped Flikshop, taking money out of his building enterprise to fund his mission. “My household noticed what I did with my companies, how profitable I used to be, and I needed them to have a chance to be part of Flikshop,” Bullock says. “I knew this was our alternative to construct generational wealth.”
Bullock recounts how he invited a variety of relations to a convention room at his building firm. He went by means of his imaginative and prescient and three-year strategic plan for Flikshop. He requested in the event that they’d take part in this family and friends spherical, and that they at a minimal contribute $ 1,200. Then he gave them a deadline. He waited anxiously, and lots of of them got here again with checks.
“As founders, we will construct our imaginative and prescient with the assist of our household and pals to assist change their lives as nicely,” Bullock says. “It is a imaginative and prescient made attainable as a result of a mom by no means stopped believing in her 15-year-old son who made one mistake that without end modified the trajectory of his life.”