Years of lies, greed, and misdirected ambition finally caught up to Daniel Bull in 2011.
“I was making and negotiating deals in the venture capital world for millions of dollars. I was however spending more than I made to keep an image that competed with my clients,” he explains. “I became desperate and began breaking moral laws to close deals.”
He ultimately ended up stealing from several close friends, including his business partner, and, at 28 years of age, found himself in prison, bankrupt, and divorced.
“Prison unplugged me,” he says. “It ripped everything that I hadn’t already destroyed to pieces.”
But it was there, that he found hope—or rather that Hope pursued him.
“In the complete loneliness I finally heard Him. I had peace. It was bizarre. Everything was finally gone and yet I wasn’t dead. I was here and time moved on and that realization that God was walking me through it made me feel valuable—valuable in Christ. I rededicated my life to Him and made a decision to put the energy I once used for myself into giving hope to those I saw everyday within prison.”
Released in 2013, Bull began seeking out the people he had hurt—his friends, his colleagues, his ex-wife. Over and over, he was granted second chances, including from his ex-wife who forgave him and later agreed to remarry him.
And perhaps equally as remarkably, his business partner not only forgave him, but agreed to help him start Zero Six Eight—a business incubator to inspire and equip former prisoners as entrepreneurs.
“My prison number was 33061068,” Bull explains. “Those last three represent anyone from the third district of Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh) … It is a number that tells everyone we are local and understand deeply the culture and secrets of the prison world.”
Businesses that ex-prisoners have started under Zero Six Eight include those in the spheres of medical technology, solar energy, composting, e-commerce, and construction.
One of the most successful efforts launched by Zero Six Eight is WorkPittsburgh, a prefab construction company that currently trains and employs 11 ex-prisoners to build homes for those who need affordable housing. The homes are also provided as a perk for those who have worked for the company for at least two years. This past month, the company was recognized through a Goodwill Power of Work Award.
Today, Bull sees how God has taken his self-centered ambition and transformed it into a vehicle to bless and promote others. Over the next several years, Bull hopes to scale the business model to cities like Auburn, New York, and Philadelphia.
“I would be honored if God grants me the opportunity to pursue this work throughout my life here,” he says.