This Founder went to jail 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 15 years old, he made a decision that would change the course of his life. He and a friend stole a man’s car in a mall parking lot. He was arrested and sentenced to eight years in adult maximum security. . “I was in denial and very depressed for those first two years,” Bullock, who is now founder and CEO of Flikshop, He says. “He couldn’t process and accept the fact that he would end up having to serve the full eight-year sentence.”

During a visit, Bullock’s mother made a promise to her son that would later serve as the inspiration for Flikshop. “Marcus, I will write you a letter or send you a picture every day for the remaining six years of your sentence,” she told him. Bullock credits her mother with saving his life. “Those photos, those letters, they saved me,” she says. “It was the little and big things that he shared with me that gave me a clear vision of what my life would be like after prison. My life was far from over.”

flikshop is named after “fliks”, which is what Bullock and his friends called pictures in prison. He started Flikshop to do for many what his mother did for him: keep every person in every cell connected to their family and other community resources, so they, too, can envision their life after prison.


The Flikshop mobile app and website allow users to send a photo and message to a loved one in prison, which Flikshop will print on a postcard and send directly to the incarcerated person. It costs only $0.99 (including postage) and is delivered directly to them.

The postcard is perforated so they can tear out the message and keep the note private. They can then share the photo with others. Today, Flikshop has mailed postcards to all 50 states and connected more than 170,000 families. John Legend is a financial supporter of Flikshop through his organization. #AMERICALIBREwho began to help transform ‘s system.

Image Credit: Flikshop

“Photos and letters are the only way for those in prison to know that there are still people in the outside world who care about them,” says Bullock. “For me, those letters were a reminder of the life that lay ahead of me.”

Here are three lessons Marcus Bullock learned from building Flikshop:

“I realized that doing a TED talk would become my calling card.”

“From a very young age, I was always a talker,” says Bullock. “My family always said, ‘Marcus is always talking about something!’ And in many ways, I’m the same Marcus today.”

He recalls the excitement he felt as a child participating in his annual school fundraiser. He was determined to talk to as many people as possible and sell as many chocolate bars as possible, which he did.

As a founder, Bullock underestimated how his fondness for narration it would help him launch Flikshop. “When they asked me to do my first ted talk, I was reluctant because I didn’t consider myself a public speaker,” he says. “And then I realized that this was a great opportunity to share my story on stage and build the Flikshop brand. That TED talk became my last calling card.”

Bullock remembers being on that stage, publicly sharing his story of going to prison for the first time. And he was scared. “My advice to entrepreneurs is to not let fear hold you back. That TED talk was my chance to build empathy and understanding about an experience most people don’t openly discuss: how to support loved ones who are incarcerated.” .

“I listened to all the advice along the way.”

Bullock launched Flikshop in 2012 because he wanted to be more diligent about his promise to send his friends in prison photos of his re-entry journey. “I had no idea what he was doing,” she says. “I never imagined I would launch a technology company. I googled ‘how to build a mobile app’ and the journey began.”

Bullock attributes his success to his hunger to learn and to be open and listen to all the advice he was given along the way. He remembers attending office hours that a DC law firm was hosting for the founders. He showed up asking question after question and showed that he was genuinely open to all the advice he was given.

Attending those office hours was how he was introduced to tech stars, a startup accelerator based in Boulder, Colorado. “That investment and support allowed me to focus on growing Flikshop full time in 2018,” says Bullock. “I wouldn’t be here without all the supporters who gave me coaching and guidance along the way.”

“I’m building generational wealth.”

Flikshop is not Bullock’s first foray into . He built a successful painting business when he got out of prison and later founded a construction company. He initially started up Flikshop, taking money from his construction business to fund his mission. “My family saw what I did with my businesses, how successful I was, and wanted them to have the opportunity to be a part of Flikshop,” says Bullock. “I knew this was our opportunity to build generational wealth.”

Bullock tells how he invited several members of his family to a conference room at his construction company. He reviewed his vision and three-year strategic plan for Flikshop. He asked if they would participate in this round of friends and family, and that they contribute at least $1,200. Then he gave them a deadline. She waited anxiously and many of them came back with checks.

“As founders, we can build our vision with the support of our family and friends to help change their lives, too,” says Bullock. “It’s a vision made possible because a mother never stopped believing in her 15-year-old son that she made a mistake that forever changed the trajectory of her life.”

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