Everyone’s definition of success varies because we all have different goals. Here’s what two 2017 Accelerate Baltimore cohort members, Trevor Brooks of GunBail and Charlene Brown of Reciprocare, have to say about the concept of success.
AB: Trevor, tell us a little bit about you as a person. Where did the idea for GunBail come from?
GunBail: My name is Trevor Brooks. Well, gun violence is personal to me. I’m the product of the Inner City of Baltimore. I’ve been a ward of the state since I was 9 years old, so I’ve always self-taught to get by. As a teenager, I was convicted for a gun-related crime, and that basically changed my life. From that day on, I decided to do something to change the future of my community so that young people don't have to go through the same thing I did.
I think local youth are misguided, or for that matter, unguided. I see it clearly- fewer guns means less crimes. Young people who are killing each other are doing that as a result of access to illegal guns. I just want to change the lives people who don't have the means to do it for themselves because society overlooks them.
AB: So what does GunBail do?
GunBail: We create a database of illegal guns, so we can track — and prevent — the future proliferation of those guns. Our goal is to decrease gun violence because that will lead to a decrease in homicides since over 95% of gun homicides are committed with illegal guns. I’m concentrating on making a positive impact.
AB: Tell us about a time when you’ve maybe thought that you’ve failed. What were some lessons that you learned?
GunBail: In the beginning, I had to knock on doors basically. I knew I had to target politicians, and it was very hard to get meetings with them. It’s been a challenging journey because I’ve had to deal with three very different systems: the courts, the streets, and politics. But my motivation is if I don’t continue with this, then illegal gun violence will never stop. There’s nothing else on the market like GunBail. It really is my purpose.
I actually started out in New Jersey, but I got there during a time when they were changing their whole bail system, implementing a no cash bail system. We had difficulty there since we get illegal guns off the streets by exchanging those guns for bail for inmates in pretrial custody. I deflated after that and thought, am I doing the right thing?
When I came to Baltimore, I was able to connect with Ray Lewis, and get his support. That helped create GunBail’s credibility. Now there are tons of people like him who are ambassadors for GunBail, and I think we’re really getting somewhere.
AB: During your time in the Accelerate Baltimore program, what have you accomplished that you are most proud of?
GunBail: Accelerate Baltimore has helped validate GunBail and it’s mission in the eyes of the local political structure. We’re now seen as a valuable startup. Plus, the ETC connected us to the Mayor’s office, and helped us gain exposure within various political circles. I’ve truly loved this experience.
To learn more about GunBail, visit the website.
AB: Who is Charlene Brown? Tell us a little bit about you as a person.
Reciprocare: I’m from New York City, I’m married, and I’m a public health doctor with 15 years of public health programing experience both global and domestic. I’ve helped shape policy and design implementation, and I’ve been overseeing interventions to help improve condition of life for poor people.
AB: Can you tell us more about your professional background?
Reciprocare: The subjects I’ve worked with the most are HIV prevention and care, tuberculosis, and drug development — working to keep drug patients safe. I’ve also worked with chronic disease prevention and STDs. About 10 years ago, I created a public health consulting company which was my first attempt at entrepreneurship. There, I worked a lot on global HIV prevention and care. That strife of entrepreneurship was honestly accidental, but I guess that’s when the seed was planted. In 2012, I was taught ideas foundation of entrepreneurship and business, and that really shifted how I thought of my career.
AB: Where did the idea for Reciprocare come from? What’s your inspiration?
Reciprocare: My friend and mentor Marcus Scott was a nonprofit creator, and he was truly a serial entrepreneur. He believed he didn't know everything, but found people who did to help him carry out the various ideas he had. I was very much influenced by the way he exemplified how you can move from public service to entrepreneurship, and the way he proved how they can work together. After he passed away, I decided to pursue Reciprocare and the entrepreneurial spirit in me to honor his memory and what he taught me.
AB: What does success mean to you? In other words, when will you be able to look back on your life and think that you’ve been successful?
Reiprocare: My goal is to increase the capacity of the underemployed workforce to increase capacity of the industry to serve seniors. By eliminating underemployment in the workforce, we will enable nation to age with grace. I see Reciprocare truly having a social impact.
To learn more about Reciprocare, check out their website.
Reciprocare is in presales, looking for interested homecare agencies who want to grow their business by growing their workforce. If you are interested in working with Reciprocare, you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.