Former Prisoners Describe Success Stories at F5 “Erasing Stigma Conference”
Marcus Bullock, Coss Marte overcame social stigma to be successful entrepreneurs
FARGO, N.D. — After spending eight years in prison, Marcus Bullock says more work needs to be done to re–integrate former inmates back into society.
“We have those like me who had a mom to come home to and live with, and then you have those that have zero housing whatsoever. So the question that we’re asking ourselves is how are we being intentional about building technology to be able to decrease that gap of employment, housing, or even family relationships,” Bullock said.
Bullock ultimately overcame the stigma tied to being a former felon by starting his own company, FlikShop.
His business keeps family bonds tight by getting pictures from loved ones, and turning them into postcards to send to inmates.
Bullock also uses his company to teach important lessons to prisoners that can help them thrive upon release.
“We slowly but surely introduce everything from how to build a business idea, how to validate that business idea, and then how to be able to build out that plan to actually make it happen,” said Bullock.
Meanwhile, Coss Marte also used his prison time as fuel for his fire to start a successful workout business, ConBody.
The backbone of his operation is also made up of former felons.
“For someone who is coming home and trying to get over that barrier and takes an opportunity and runs with it and then being shot, have that door slammed in your face the whole time, it gets frustrating. I felt that same pain and I didn’t want people who were coming out to feel that same pain as well,” Marte said.
With the F5 Project helping people transition to life after prison for the last year and half, seeing people across the country have similar success shows some hope for their cause.
“You’ve served your time in prison, you’ve served your time, not a life–long sentence for something that happened ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, so the goal of today was to bring speakers in who have been in prison at one time and developed something out of nothing, and turned their lives around and made them really awesome,” said Adam Martin, the Founder of the F5 Project.
One of the conference’s speakers was Kathryn Helgaas Burgum, the First Lady of North Dakota, who spoke on how to overcome addiction.