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From Formerly Incarcerated to CEO of a Washington, DC Startup

Updated: Nov 22, 2023

By, Erick McNair FSB Cohort #109 Graduate and Cohort CEO

AI Flikshop Erick McNair
Erick McNair listens during a Flikshop School of Business artificial intelligence lesson.

Participating in the Flikshop School of the Business (FSB) cohort was arguably one of the Top-5 best experiences throughout my entire life--and I'm 41!!


From my first interview with Jess, to the moment I stepped on AWS' campus in Arlington- everything was inviting. FSB instructors like Marcus, Tony, and Jess were engaging and full of information. The curriculum unlocked ideas and tools that I didn't even know I needed.


Everyday I looked forward to coming back to learn and experience more. We had panelists visit our cohort classroom to describe their different roles and experiences within AWS. Each visitor was supportive and encouraging. All the instructors, AWS visitors, and guests left "jewelry" that I plan to wear with every outfit!

Edge Media Pitch Flikshop School of Business
Edge Media helps record Flikshop School of Business Cohort 109 final pitch video.

The final week blew my mind though. Our class spent the first week of our FSB boot-camp creating our own business-Freedom Bridge. Freedom Bridge is an app built to help returning citizens navigate their reentry with access to resources, job opportunities, education, and more - all with the goal of building easier transitions for those coming home from prison.


Actually formulating the business, Freedom Bridge, (a concept I fully believe in) was so inspiring. Our cohort had to fill all the positions in a C-Suite structure, and being the CEO of our company was a highlight for me. I felt like people believed in me from beginning to end and I came through for the team, especially in our final pitch recording. [VIEW HERE!]




If I had any reservations about my potential, it was unlocked right before my eyes. Our FSB graduation at the incredible AWS Skills Center was bittersweet. I was excited to celebrate our hard work, but sad to see the end of our time together.


A few more YEARS wouldn't have been too long, but I'm grateful for the 10 days I got! Thank you Flikshop, especially ALL-OF- YALL!!


Class Project Flikshop School of Business
Flikshop School of Business cohort members work on class project, "Freedom Bridge." (Terry Downing, Curtis Patterson, and Erick McNair)

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