This Founder Went to Prison When He Was 15 Years Old. That’s Where He Came Up With the Idea for a Company Now Backed By John Legend.

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When Marcus Bullock was once 15 years outdated, he decided that might trade the process his existence. He and a chum carjacked a person in a shopping center car parking zone. He was once arrested and sentenced to 8 years in an grownup maximum-security jail. “I used to be in denial and become very depressed right through the ones first two years,” Bullock, who’s now founder and CEO of Flikshop, says. “I could not procedure and settle for the truth that I’d finally end up having to serve all of the eight-year sentence.”

During one discuss with, Bullock’s mom made a promise to her son that might later function the foundation for Flikshop. “Marcus, I’m going to jot down you a letter or ship you an image on a daily basis for the remainder six years of your sentence,” she advised him. Bullock credit his mom with saving his existence. “Those footage, the ones letters, stored me,” he says. “It was once the small and large issues she shared with me that gave me a transparent imaginative and prescient of what my existence would seem like after jail. My existence was once a ways from over.”

Flikshop is called after “fliks,” which is what Bullock and his pals referred to as footage in jail. He began Flikshop to do for plenty of what his mom did for him: Keep each particular person in each cellular hooked up to their members of the family and different group sources, in order that they can also envision their existence after jail.


The Flikshop cellular app and site permit customers to ship a photograph and message to a cherished one in jail, which Flikshop will print on a postcard and ship at once to the incarcerated person. It prices simply $0.99 (together with postage) and is delivered at once to them.

The postcard is perforated, so they are able to tear off the message and stay the be aware personal. Then they are able to percentage the photograph with others. Today, Flikshop has shipped postcards into all 50 states and has hooked up greater than 170,000 households. John Legend is a monetary supporter of Flikshop via his group #FREEAMERICA, which he began to lend a hand become America’s prison justice gadget.

Image credit score: Flikshop

“Pictures and letters are the only method for the ones in jail to grasp there are nonetheless folks within the outdoor international who maintain them,” Bullock says. “For me, the ones letters have been a reminder of the existence that was once looking ahead to me.”

Here are 3 classes Marcus Bullock has realized from construction Flikshop:

“I spotted doing a TED Talk would turn into my trade card.”

“From a tender age, I used to be at all times a talker,” Bullock says. “My circle of relatives at all times stated, ‘Marcus is at all times speaking about one thing!’ And in some ways, I’m that very same Marcus lately.”

He recollects the thrill he felt as a tender boy collaborating in his annual college fundraiser. He was once decided to speak to as many of us as imaginable and promote probably the most sweet bars, which he did.

As a founder, Bullock underestimated how his penchant for storytelling would lend a hand him release Flikshop. “When I used to be requested to do my first TED Talk, I used to be reluctant as a result of I did not believe myself a public speaker,” he says. “And then I spotted it was once a formidable alternative to percentage my tale on degree and construct the Flikshop logo. That TED Talk become my final trade card.”

Bullock recollects status on that degree, publicly sharing his tale of going to jail for the primary time. And he was once scared. “My recommendation to marketers isn’t to let worry hang you again. That TED Talk was once my alternative to construct empathy and figuring out for an revel in that the general public do not overtly talk about — the way to make stronger family members who’re incarcerated.”

“I listened to each piece of recommendation alongside the way in which.”

Bullock introduced Flikshop in 2012 as a result of he sought after to be extra diligent about his promise to ship his pals in jail footage of his reentry adventure. “I had no thought what I used to be doing,” he says. “I by no means imagined that I’d release a tech corporate. I Googled ‘the way to construct a cellular app,’ and the adventure started.”

Bullock credit his good fortune to his starvation for finding out and to being open and taking note of each piece of recommendation alongside the way in which. He recollects attending administrative center hours a legislation company in D.C. was once internet hosting for founders. He confirmed up asking query after query and confirmed he was once in truth open to all the recommendation he was once given.

Attending the ones administrative center hours was once how he was once offered to Techstars, a Boulder, Colo.-based startup accelerator. “That funding and make stronger allowed me the power to concentrate on rising Flikshop complete time in 2018,” Bullock says. “I would not be right here with out all the supporters who gave me training and steerage alongside the way in which.”

“I’m construction generational wealth.”

Flikshop is not Bullock’s first project into entrepreneurship. He constructed a a hit portray trade when he left jail after which went directly to construct a building corporate. He to start with bootstrapped Flikshop, taking money out of his building trade to fund his venture. “My circle of relatives noticed what I did with my companies, how a hit I used to be, and I sought after them to have a chance to be a part of Flikshop,” Bullock says. “I knew this was once our alternative to construct generational wealth.”

Bullock recounts how he invited a lot of members of the family to a convention room at his building corporate. He went via his imaginative and prescient and three-year strategic plan for Flikshop. He requested if they would take part on this family and friends spherical, and that they at a minimal give a contribution $1,200. Then he gave them a cut-off date. He waited anxiously, and plenty of of them got here again with assessments.

“As founders, we will be able to construct our imaginative and prescient with the make stronger of our friends and family to lend a hand trade their lives as neatly,” Bullock says. “It’s a imaginative and prescient made imaginable as a result of a mom by no means stopped believing in her 15-year-old son who made one mistake that ceaselessly modified the trajectory of his existence.”

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