We are proud to support Defy Ventures as they work to train incarcerated individuals to become entrepreneurs and leaders, and congratulate them on their outstanding success over the last five years.

Defying Expectations

Defy Ventures Founder Cat Hote

Defy Ventures Founder Cat Hote

Defy Ventures, one of Quick Key’s partner organizations, is a non-profit organization that offers a one-year entrepreneurial training and mentorship program to people with criminal backgrounds, graduated its inaugural class in 2012. That class of seven students – all incarcerated prisoners – “transformed the hustle, becoming Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs) by getting intensive leadership development, Shark Tank-style business plan competitions, executive mentoring, financial investment, and startup incubation from Defy.

According to an article in the New York Times from 2012, graduation included a business pitch competition with a $500 prize.

By the Numbers

Fast forward five years to 2017, and the size of the nation-wide prize is $15,000. Defy has so far served 3,800+ formerly incarcerated Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs), financed and incubated over 170 startups founded by EITs (which created 350+ jobs in their communities, and disbursed $700,000+ to EIT startups through business pitch competition awards and micro-loans.

Defy Ventures is having an impact that has been recognized by the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, and others. But since we are Quick Key, we like to focus on core metrics, and two numbers that might matter the most are these: less than 5% of Defy graduates have gone back to prison (that’s 1/15th the average 5-year prison recidivism rate) and 95% of Defy graduates have a business or a job after they are released. Given that many companies won’t hire felons, and many felons go back to prison for reasons tied to their financial well-being, Defy Ventures is a huge force for good.

New Frontiers

defy ventures winners

Three winners of a Defy Ventures pitch competition

We would like to congratulate Defy Ventures on its newest venture at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women (NCCW).

Keep up the great work! We support you and we are proud to be your partner in transforming lives.

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