Meet Our Graduates

Porfirio “Billy” AmaroDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Perfirio “Billy” Amaro

After his father was murdered when he was still a child, Porfirio was drawn to street life and the neighborhood hustlers. He created a profitable drug business and spent 12 years in prison for drug conspiracy and weapons possession. Now, devoted to family, faith, and personal development, he is the founder and owner or A & N Eco-Friendly Cleaning Services, a full-service commercial cleaning company that uses environmentally friendly products and methods.

Rob LillyDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Rob Lilly

When Rob first came to Defy, he introduced himself as a third generation felon. He was the first member of his family to graduate from college, but followed in his father’s footsteps to prison. While enrolled at Howard University, he was arrested for criminal possession of a loaded firearm, burglary, and possession of narcotics with intent to distribute. Rob is a Class One graduate and the Founder and Owner of Power House Events, a full-service event planning company that produces memorable, trendsetting, and meticulously executed celebratory events. Stemming from his experience with his absent father, a core part of Power House’s mission is to train and hires young fathers so that they can provide for their families. Rob generated over $20,000 in revenue and created 10 jobs for dads within the first six months of launch.

“The best part about Defy is meeting a whole network of people who I’m still close with –people with my background and those with a completely different walk of life. It’s a brotherhood. We refer business to each other and rely on each other’s services to support our businesses. I love being my own boss and providing opportunities to young dads.”

Marlon LlinDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Marlon Llin

Marlon followed in his dad’s footsteps to prison when he served a 10-year federal prison sentence for conspiracy to sell narcotics. When he returned from prison, he redirected his former drug hustling skills into legal sales and boosted overall sales for his former employer by 200%. A father of three, he is now the proud owner of Mylo’s Builders, which provides kitchen and bathroom renovations, as well as wood flooring installation. Since launching in May 2012, Mylo’s Builders has worked with 25 clients and given job opportunities to 15 people.

“Defy has given me a new way of thinking. When you’ve been in the streets all your life and you have no money, it’s so easy to back to the streets and get quick money even though you’re trying to do the right thing. But Defy gave me another tool and showed me how important it is to surround myself with positive people. Now, everyone I know is in business or trying to start a business. I’ve run into Defy executives on the street and that I have a relationship with all these new people is amazing. Things haven’t been perfect in my first year as a business owner, but I have people to turn to for help. There are bumps, but I know what I want and feel optimistic that I’m doing the right thing by pursuing my dreams.”

Nick LohrDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Nick Lohr

Nick got his entrepreneurial start in middle school by buying and trading baseball cards and, later, in high school, with a successful landscaping business that employed many of his friends. In middle school, he also started selling marijuana, which continued through high school and college until he was arrested and served a three-year prison sentence. After observing the tech boom while in prison, he launched a web startup upon his release that shares information about neighborhoods in Boston and NYC. As a Defy student entrepreneur, he is launching, which provides customized mobile websites to restaurants.

“With Defy, for the first time, I didn’t have to hide half of my life. At Defy everyone knows the whole story and it’s like a family. It feels like we’re all in it together. Entrepreneurship is who I am. My goal is to create something useful for the world and love doing it everyday.”

Coss MarteDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Coss Marte

While serving a sentence in his 9’x6′ prison cell, Coss lost 70+ lbs. in just six months. From that experience, Coss refined a unique fitness program combining fun cardiovascular, aerobic, and running exercises and now he has brought this exercise program back to New York City.

Coss is dedicated to helping people live healthy lifestyles through his exercise programs. He is genuinely, fully, interested in the successes of his clients and will do whatever it takes to help you reach your fitness goals. This includes creating a personal relationship with every bootcamp participant and helping them set achievable short-term and long-term goals. He also keeps in constant contact through texts and emails to provide ongoing motivation. Coss is so much more than a personal trainer; he’s a friend on your fitness journey who has been down this road before.

Kim MorrisDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Kim Morris

I am the Founder and CEO of The Cleaned Space. The Cleaned Space is a high-quality, detailed, eco-friendly cleaning service focused on property managers in NYC and Northern NJ. I am focused on property managers because they represent the highest margin and least price-sensitive potential market. I acquire my customers through referrals, including Airbnb hosts, property managers, private homes, and commercial spaces. I’m making more money now as a business owner than I ever made working for someone else. What used to take me two weeks to make I sometimes make in one day. I have a passion for cleaned spaces, as I feel a cleaned space brings clarity and peace of mind. I served two years In prison and I held three jobs at the same time, one of them as an orderly.  I have been doing the cleaning myself up until now. I am in the process of hiring employees to clean, so that I can focus on being a CEO and expanding the company. My vision is for The Cleaned Space to be on both the West coast and the East cost, and beyond.

Seth SundbergDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Seth Sundberg

Imagine that you work in a prison kitchen. You’re preparing for the afternoon meal and you go to the back freezer to pull out a box of chicken. On the side of this box of chicken that you’re about to serve you read in bold letters, “NOT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION.” How do you feel right now? Probably a lot like I did when that happened to me!

My name is Seth Sundberg. I’m a former NBA basketball player, a former branch manager of a national mortgage company, and a former inmate in a federal prison. I served five years for tax fraud and worked in the prison kitchen the majority of that time.

After I read that, I went back to the unit and got together with some guys and we purchased the healthiest items off of the commissary we could get and started experimenting, trying to find something healthy we could eat to substitute for the not for human consumption chicken. What we came up with was a criminally delicious granola and oats snack bar made with peanut butter, chocolate, dried fruits and other good things, and this is the beginning of how “Prison Bars” were born.

More than just offering a tasty meal replacement snack bar, at Prison Bars we have a powerful vision and are looking to do two things: One….to be the best socially conscious choice for consumers in this huge snack bar market, and two….we want to provide jobs for former prisoners who may not have been able to get employment elsewhere because of the ex-offender label we have to wear around our necks. And I don’t mean just three or four jobs, I’m talking two salespeople in 50 major cities, this means we’ve given jobs and hope to 100 formerly incarcerated individuals.

Taren TylerDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Taren Tyler

Taren was a third-generation street hustler, whose father and uncles were all successful drug dealers. He started hustling drugs at age 12, was arrested at age 16 and served 6 years in prison. He now works for a criminal justice reform agency and, a master barber, is launching Bedouin Barbers, a mobile barbershop.

Jose VasquezDefy-Students-1Defy-Students-1


Jose Vasquez

While in high school, Jose began delivering packages of narcotics for a family member. He had established a profitable drug business making $2,000 per day and oversaw a team of employees when he was arrested and served 2 ½ years in federal prison for conspiracy to distribute heroin. Through Defy, he founded Happy Vida, a personal concierge service that runs errands, does personal shopping, and coordinates home care for busy New Yorkers. Jose also works as a Learning Specialist at a leading NYC-based technology company.

“A few years ago, I was locked away in a cage within federal prison—“the hole.” I was even fed through a hole and had no human contact. It’s hard to put into words how it feels to go from wearing an orange jumpsuit to now proudly wearing a suit and tie and serving as the Chief Executive Officer of my own start-up. I have customers, including corporate accounts, and am using my leadership to help others. My grandma and mom were so emotional when they saw me sport my cap and gown at my Defy graduation. We had powerful executives from eight states there to cheer me on! I’m so proud of myself. I’ve earned this. I’ve overcome the trials and am living out my dream as an entrepreneur.”


Perfirio “Billy” Amaro

After his father was murdered when he was still a child, Porfirio was drawn to street life and the neighborhood hustlers. He created a profitable drug business and spent 12 years in prison for drug conspiracy and weapons possession. Now, devoted to family, faith, and personal development, he is the founder and owner or A & N Eco-Friendly Cleaning Services, a full-service commercial cleaning company that uses environmentally friendly products and methods.