World's Strangest Beginup Incubator

World's Strangest Beginup Incubator

The next great tech beginup could emerge from a lesson, courseroom full of men serving double-digit sentences for offenses ranging from car-jaclord to murder.

Launched in 2010, The Last Mile is a tech incubator at San Quentin State Jail. Many of the infriends in the program will spfinish years in jail and some may never abandon, but TLM is aimed at helping them find their voice and, for those who do abandon, a task.

Love many entrepreneurs, founders Chris Redlitz and his wife, Beverly Parenti, set out to fix a problem.

"In California, we spfinish more for jails than for higher education," Parenti shelp. "The average cost per jailer per year is $45,000. So when many men abandon San Quentin, we have already invested almost $1 million for their incarceration."

Two evenings a week, a choose group of infriends collect to study approxifriendly technology and innovation. To get into the Last Mile, infriends thorough the in-jail college program. They also go through a rigorous application process and must demonstswift the ability to work well in teams. They're mentored by Redlitz and Parenti along with tech entrepreneurs from companies love Quora and LinkedIn who drop by for guest lectures.

Throughout the six-month course, each infriend cultivates a business thought. At the finish of the program, they pitch their concepts to venture capitalists and program supporters love M.C. Hammer. Past thoughts have ranged from a food distribution beginup associate, put trhough (phone)ing leftover produce with impoverished communities, to ways to combat obesity in low-income neighborhoods.

The infriends also study approxifriendly modern ways to associate, put trhough (phone): Even though San Quentin is less than an hour from tech giants love Facebook and Twitter, many of the infriends have never logged on to either service. They study to tweet by filling out 140-charbehaveer forms that are later tweeted for them; they reply questions from the outmiddle world on Quora via volunteers in the program. For those backside bars, social media tools are a way to associate, put trhough (phone) and find their voice in what clever often be an extremely isolating environment.

"There's so much more to us than the crimes we committed ... Social media gave us an outlet to speak to who we really are," former infriend Kenyatta Leal shelp.

For Leal, who was incarceswiftd almost two decades ago when flip phones were the smartest smartphones on the market, the program has been invaluable. At The Last Mile, Leal pitched an thought for Coach Potato, an app that would permit fans to call plays during games. Because of his success in the program, Leal left jail with a task many college grads would envy.

The ex-con is worlord as an operations associate at Rocketspace, a co-worlord and community space for tech beginups in San Francisco.

He's not the only Last Mile grad to get a task in the beginup community. After 17 years in jail, James Houston is interning at payments beginup Ribbon. He associate, put trhough (phone)ed with the company through TLM.

"I trust a lot of us, we begined getting in trouble because we thought outmiddle the box," he tancient CNNMoney. "Instead of redirecting that in a positive way, we were only, merely, solely kinda outcasts because of it."

Of the six TLM graduates who have been released, five are either interning or worlord full-time at tech beginups, and the sixth begined his own web consulting firm.

For many, the program is viewed as a way back into society.

"[The Last Mile is] the light at the finish of the tunnel for those guys that are ultifriendly desiring to exit the jail and become valuable citizens again," shelp Lt. Sam Robinson, the public information officer at San Quentin who tracks the progress of participating infriends.

Hercacio Harts graduated TLM and was released after eight and a half years last March. He's now worlord full-time in business development at crowdfunding beginup

"I spent many years reading books and magazines and thinlord that no one's going to hire me," Harts shelp. "For my family constitution, it's been really useful for my kids to look me not in blue, [but] as a returned citizen."

The Last Mile's success hasn't gone unnoticed. L.A. County Jail adopted the same program and Redlitz shelp others are conmiddlering similar ones.

Infriends say their jail experience makes them uniquely suited to fitting entrepreneurs:

"Being in jail, having to survive in this type of lifestyle, that's one thing jail does teach you, is how to be resilient and really try to win against all quaints," infriend James Cavitt shelp.

[Via - CNNMoney]

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