Marcus Bullock – Flikshop

In 1996 15-year-old Marcus Bullock, founder of Flikshop, stood in front of a judge. Tried as an adult Marcus was sentenced and served 8 years in an adult maximum security prison for felony auto theft. For the next 8 years, in the heat of summer, this young man would go out to the prison yard, dressed in a winter coat, stuffed with magazines… his suit of armor to guard against being shanked.

Normally this kind of story ends badly. A study by the National Institute of Justice found that 76 percent of prisoners are rearrested within 3 years of release. Odds are, that if we checked back with Marcus Bullock today, he would be incarcerated.

Yet Today, Marcus is a husband, a father of two young children. He is a respected member of the community and a businessman. Marcus Bullock is the proprietor of Perspective Painting Contractors and a software startup, Flikshop.

What makes Bullock different than the average ex-con? How did he beat the odds?

Marcus credits that to his mother. When Marcus went to prison, his mother told him that she would never let him forget who he was. She constantly wrote to him. She sent him pictures of family, of the neighborhood and of the mailbox where the letters he wrote home were delivered to his mom. Marcus believes it was this feeling of connection that kept him centered and focused on leaving prison and never returning.

That was then and now is now. Today, few people communicate through the US Mail.  It’s all electronic. We do emails, we do snap chat, Instagram, Facebook. The art of sitting down, handwriting a letter, addressing it, and putting a stamp on it is a lost art. This takes a toll on our prison population. Today’s connected population find it difficult to keep the familial connection with incarcerated family and friends isolated from the internet by prison walls.

People in prison don’t have access to the open internet. So how do families of prisoners give a sense of connections to their incarcerated family members? Enter Flikshop. A startup with a purpose.

Anyone who can use Instagram can use Flikshop. A phone app that allows family members to take a photo and add a note. Flikshop than prints the photo and message on a postcard, stamps, address and mails it for just 99 cents. It’s simple, it’s familiar and it works. It is as easy as using Instagram.

Marcus hires ex-convicts in his painting business and Flikshop. He teaches entrepreneurship classes in prisons and inspires convicts to not only get out of the system but to stay out. This is a man who knows he is blessed and is passing his blessings forward.

I first met Marcus when I was working with 10Pearls, a premier software development firm. 10Pearls worked with Marcus to develop and perfect the software and Imran Aftab, CEO, and founder of 10Pearls is an investor in the company. During that time, I worked with and coached Marcus regarding pitching and raising money. I had the privilege of joining him as he taught an entrepreneurship class in a juvenile detention center. He truly is doing amazing things.

When I hear a double-bottom-line, I roll my eyes. This is a legitimate Double Bottom Line business with no eye-roll. The recidivism rate of regular recipients of Flikshop postcards is significantly lower than the general prison population. In addition, Marcus hires ex-cons to work in his business because gainful employment is a factor in staying clear of trouble.

I’m glad to know Marcus Bullock. I’m proud he’s counted on me as an advisor. Flikshop is the antithesis of the dumpster fires I usually feature in my posts. It’s a story that starts out bad and with all odds against it, is progressing, making a difference and actually doing good while doing well. And Marcus Bullock is the reason that all of us need to believe in second chances and in redemption.

Thanks, Marcus.