Freddie Figgers was a 'dumpster baby' but is now one of the youngest African-Americans to own and run an independent, U.S.-based telecommunications company.
There's really nothing to explain where we are born and the circumstances that determine our eventual fate. Of course, while some of us believe everything is predestined, there are others who make their own destiny. Perhaps Freddie Figgers belongs to the latter group. At just a few days old, he was found dumped in a trash bin in rural Florida. Thankfully, a random passerby was able to spot him and take him to the hospital. Soon enough, he was adopted by a great set of parents. Now, he's one of the most successful African-American tech entrepreneurs ever.
Once the kind stranger found him and took him to the hospital, he stayed there for about two days so he could recover from minor injuries. After being pronounced safe and healthy, he was placed in the foster care system. If you're familiar, you know that the foster care system can be a harsh and cruel thing, leaving children at the mercy of people who really shouldn't be parents or guardians. Thankfully, he was taken in by Nathan and Betty Figgers. They lived nearby Quincy, Florida, and already had a daughter of their own. They were regular foster parents and offered to foster many children. But they knew little Freddie was different, so they decided to adopt him.
Freddie had a difficult childhood. Growing up, he was often mocked for his background, with many children and peers in school calling him "dumpster baby". Now at 30, Freddie revealed, "It’s a rural area, so after it happened, everybody heard about it. My parents told me the truth about what happened as I grew older. I thought about it a lot as a kid, and I’d have to say it was embarrassing when I was younger." Nonetheless, he persisted. As a child, he found his passion for computers and technology. When his dad Nathan bought him an old 1989 Macintosh from a thrift store for $25 to play around with, Freddie knew he had found his calling.
Freddie shared, "He thought that a computer might help to keep me out of trouble." And it did. At only nine years old, he was able to disassemble and reassemble a computer all by himself. He even learned how to use some old radio parts to fix the Macintosh computer so it would power up. "I still have it," Freddie said. "It’s what sparked my interest in technology." What happened next is a storyline built for the movies. At 13, because he had gotten so good with computers, the people of Quincy had started hiring him to fix their computers. Then, by the age of 15, he launched his very first company out of his parents’ living room. It was called Figgers Computers and specialized in fixing computers as well as helping clients store data on servers that he created.
Though it was the safe path to pursue a bachelor's degree, Freddie decided to drop out of college. He stated, "I wouldn’t recommend my path to everyone. But it worked for me. When I was 17, I had 150 clients that needed websites and storage for their files. I just kept building from there." In his early 20s, the techie developed a GPS tracking, two-way communication device when his dad developed Alzheimer's. He used it to track Nathan whenever he wandered out and got lost. Explaining the device, he said, "I created a device that I could insert in his shoe that would allow me to track him, plus talk to him through his shoe. It was difficult to watch him decline—it’s something you never forget. I’ve always been so grateful to him and my mom. They taught me not to let my circumstances define who I was."
Despite this difficult ordeal, he sold his GPS invention for $2.2 million in 2012 at only 23 years old. Now, he owns his own company, Figgers Wireless. They sell smartphones and data plans and were appraised in 2017 at more than $62 million. Though Freddie is proud of his company, he's still interested in combining healthcare with tech. Presently, he sells a wireless blood glucose meter device for patients with diabetes. The device permits users to download and share their glucose levels through Bluetooth technology. He's also working on a project similar to his “smart shoe” technology so as to aid families when they wish to stay in touch with loved ones currently experiencing homelessness. "That could be me on the streets—I could have been homeless or dead if I hadn’t been found by the dumpster after I was born," he said. "My parents adopted me and gave me love and a future. They did their best to make the world a better place, and now that’s all I want to do, too." Freddie is truly an inspiration to us all.