This Founder Went to Jail When He Was 15 Years Previous. That is The place He Got here Up With the Thought for a Firm Now Backed By John Legend.

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When Marcus Bullock was 15 years outdated, he decided that may change the course of his life. He and a buddy 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 entire 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 day by day for the remaining six years of your sentence,” she advised him. Bullock credit his mom with saving his life. “These footage, these letters, saved me,” he says. “It was the small and massive 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 referred to as footage in jail. He began Flikshop to do for a lot of what his mom did for him: Hold each individual in each cell linked to their relations and different neighborhood sources, so that they can also envision their life after jail.


The Flikshop cell app and web site permit customers to ship a photograph and message to a liked 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 hold the be aware personal. Then they’ll share the photograph with others. In the present day, Flikshop has shipped postcards into all 50 states and has linked greater than 170,000 households. John Legend is a monetary supporter of Flikshop by his group #FREEAMERICAwhich he began to assist rework America’s legal justice system.

Picture credit score: Flikshop

“Footage and letters are the a method for these in jail to know there are nonetheless individuals within the outdoors world who take care of 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 realized from constructing Flikshop:

“I spotted doing a TED Discuss would grow to be my enterprise card.”

“From a younger age, I used to be all the time a talker,” Bullock says. “My household all the time mentioned, ‘Marcus is all the time speaking about one thing!’ And in some ways, I’m that very same Marcus immediately. “

He remembers the joy he felt as a younger boy taking part in his annual college fundraiser. He was decided to speak to as many individuals as potential and promote essentially 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 didn’t take into account 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 focus on – help 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 footage 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 ‘ construct a cell 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 regulation 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 help allowed me the flexibility to give attention to 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 development firm. He initially bootstrapped Flikshop, taking money out of his development 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 a part of Flikshop,” Bullock says. “I knew this was our alternative to construct generational wealth.”

Bullock recounts how he invited quite a lot of relations to a convention room at his development firm. He went by 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 help of our household and pals to assist change their lives as nicely,” Bullock says. “It is a imaginative and prescient made potential as a result of a mom by no means stopped believing in her 15-year-old son who made one mistake that perpetually modified the trajectory of his life.”


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