Any investor or investment group willing to consider an ex-felon’s business project is taking a chance most wouldn’t. To risk reputation and resources on individuals who have been deemed “less than reliable” says a great deal about the character of that investor.
Time is money. As such, professional investors are used to dealing with professionals who are educated and prepared for the process of getting to the closing table. Conversely an ex-felon with the greatest of ideas and is lucky enough to get the attention of an investor is coming at the deal from a completely different mindset.
There are bad people in prison. The system is about warehousing not rehabilitation. Manipulators and thugs don’t stop being manipulators or thugs simply because they are behind bars. Infact they prey on those who would spend their time bettering themselves and preparing for the future. It s a daily barrage of of physical threats and mental and emotional abuse. This every interaction is met with suspicion and appreciation.
Forward thinking inmate’s become jaded ad hardened against any and all encroachments into their space. To their own detriment – as RWM has seen first hand. Institutionalization is more than the destruction of ones spirit, it is the complete destruction of interpersonal interaction-related trust that free people take for granted. It’s a form of PTSD that does not resolve itself upon release. It takes time.
I bring this up because any investor or investment group willing to consider a deal with an ex-felon entrepreneur through Razorwire must understand the challenges we will encounter. Regardless of how transparent we are or how much we prepare the felon entrepreneur for the deal process we may never fully gain their trust. It’s not that they don’t trust “us” it’s that they don’t trust “anyone.”.
Is this an insurmountable issue? No.
Will it affect the long term value of a project? No. Infact an ex-felon is less likely to fall for some random scam that could damage their business. But it also means that, at least initially they may not be able to get out of this own way.
Razorwire works with legitimate deals and felon-entrepeneurs who show they have a real potential for success. But that motivation and desire runs headlong into a form of PTSD that causes investors frustration.
How can we overcome this? In one case a simple letter of intent from the investor to one of the principals would have made all the difference in the world. But for the investor all the emails back and forth made a letter superfluous. Then communication broke down and lines in the sand were drawn. All unnecessarily.
I see both sides of the situation. The investor expected the ex-felon to be a professional. The ex-felon is still struggling with the fact that everyone (family, friends, lawyers, prison staff and other inmates) has lied and abused his trust repeatedly. Does this mean the ex-felon can’t be the professional? Of course he can.
We (Razorwire) face challenges with every deal we would consider. We do our best to prepare the felon as well as the package to get both successfully to the closing table. But these are not your average deals. They come with a certain amount of mental baggage that with your patience,and understanding we can more effectively overcome.
There is no one more loyal than the man whose been abused and offered a hand up. He has prayed for relief and craves that he will finally find someone he can trust. But by the nature of his experiences he is also the slowest to accept assistance is not another scam. This is the duality of the ex-felon. He is prone to initially slap the hand that feeds him even when it’s detrimental to his own best interests.
But if we can work together to overcome these interim trust issues, this man will be the most dedicated to the opportunity given him.
We look forward to working with you in the future and ask you simply consider these words as we develop a project for your consideration. Together we can make a difference.
Co-founder Razorwire Media