“We took someone’s car at gunpoint,” recalled Marcus Bullock.
“It was about a week after my 15th birthday. I was 15 years old and I trembled at the thought of — not a judge —but to be honest, because I had to stand in front of a phone and call my mother and feel her ‘Marcus has been arrested,’” Bullock, the formerly incarcerated founder and CEO of Flikshop, told a crowd gathered for a 2017 TEDTalk in Washington, D.C.
From a jail cell to a corner office, Bullock is set to again present his story during Determination, Incorporated’s inaugural Rise Up, Get Started entrepreneurship competition Thursday at Plexpod Westport Commons.
“[Rise Up, Get Started] allows participants in our Back to Business and Be the Boss groups to learn and push themselves,” explained Kyle J. Smith, co-founder of Determination, Incorporated.
Click here to read more about Determination, Incorporated’s mission in Kansas City.
With roughly 19,000 Missouri residents released from prison each year, Rise Up, Get Started is intended to serve as a reminder that every future is bright — despite the shape of the road a person has traveled, Smith noted.
“Kansas City is a great place to live, work, play, and dream, and we welcome you home with open arms,” Smith said, noting that many formerly incarcerated people are given reentry into society without guidance or support.
A path to entrepreneurship and exposure to stories like Bullock’s — which also saw the entrepreneur found a construction business before graduating the TechStars accelerator program and launching Flikshop in 2011 — could help them better navigate their new normal, he added.
“My personal mission in life is to help others live and love to their fullest. Entrepreneurship is a great way to live out that mission, and the community that has coalesced around our organization make it all possible,” Smith said.
Bullock is expected to share stories from the founding of Flikshop, an app which allows incarcerated people to receive personalized postcards from their families, in addition to highlights from a follow-on project: The Flikshop School of business — a project that teaches coding and software development in prisons, he explained.
Additionally, Thursday’s competition will celebrate its first crop of Determination, Incorporated companies, who will pitch for a chance to win one of three $1,500 grants.
“[Rise Up, Get Started] is a great opportunity to showcase their hard work, and to carry our mission into the hearts and minds of Kansas Citians: breaking down barriers to entrepreneurship for formerly incarcerated people can help heal broken systems in our society, while inspiring people with criminal records to push for positive change in our community,” Smith said.
Click here to get tickets to Rise Up, Get Started.
Watch elevator pitches from the competitors below.