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Abandoned As a Newborn, How Freddie Figgers Turned His Passion for Computers into Millions

Freddie Figgers was found abandoned as a newborn next to a dumpster in rural Florida.
PUBLISHED MAY 11, 2024
Cover Image Source:  Freddie Figgers | Getty Images |  Johnny Louis
Cover Image Source: Freddie Figgers | Getty Images | Johnny Louis

Freddie Figgers, the founder of the only black-owned telecommunications company in the United States, didn't let his circumstances define who he was. Freddie found out that he was adopted when he was only eight, when his father Nathan, told him, "'Listen I'm going to shoot it to you straight, Fred. Your biological mother, she threw you away, and me and Betty Mae, we didn't want to send you through foster care and we adopted you, and you're my son.'"

Freddie was found abandoned as a newborn next to a dumpster in rural Florida. "When he told me that, I was like, 'OK I'm trash,' and I felt unwanted. But he grabbed my shoulder and he said, 'Listen, don't you ever let that bother you," he told BBC.



Nathan Figgers, a maintenance worker and handyman, and his wife, Betty Mae Figgers, who was a farm worker, adopted Freddie when they were in their 50s. Freddie had a difficult time growing up, as he was often bullied by other kids. It reached a point, where his father had to go pick him up from the bus stop so that he wouldn't get mocked.

"I saw my father always helping people, stopping on the side of the road helping strangers, feeding the homeless," he said. "He was an incredible man, and for them to take me in and raise me, that's the man I want to be like," he told the publication.

Freddie Figgers and Sherí Barros attend the BET Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at the James L. Knight Center on January 30, 2020  | Getty Images | Aaron J. Thornton
Freddie Figgers and Sherí Barros attend the BET Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at the James L. Knight Center on January 30, 2020, | Getty Images | Aaron J. Thornton

Freddie was interested in technology from a very young age. He found a computer by a dumpster. "It's an old saying, 'One man's trash is another man's treasure,'" says Freddie, "and I was always fascinated by computers. I always wanted a Gateway computer, but at that time we couldn't afford one," he told BBC.

Freddie said that the computer he had brought home would not turn on. He quickly took it apart and saw that the capacitors were broken. "I had soldering guns there and I had radios and alarm clocks, so I took parts out of my father's radio alarm clock and I soldered them into the circuit board. "After more than 50 attempts, Figgers was able to turn it on.

He soon realized that this was what he wanted to do, and kept on polishing his hardware skills. By the age of 12, he was already repairing broken computers in the school's computer labs.

"If the hard drive was corrupt I would swap it out. If it needed more memory I would add more RAM. If it needed a power supply, I would switch it out," he said.



He soon caught the attention of the town's Mayor, who saw that the little boy was able to bring back dead computers to life. He and his parents were soon asked to come to the city hall where he found that more than 100 computers were waiting to get repaired.

"It wasn't even really about the money," he says. "I had an opportunity to do something that I loved to do and it was just so fun to me."

He was soon introduced to the concept of coding when Quincy needed a system to check the city's water pressure gauges. He soon developed a software that could check the water pressures.

Freddie Figgers and Sherí Barros attend the BET Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at the James L. Knight Center on January 30, 2020  | Getty Images | Aaron J. Thornton
Freddie Figgers and Sherí Barros attend the BET Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at the James L. Knight Center on January 30, 2020, | Getty Images | Aaron J. Thornton

"So I said, 'Sir, listen, if you give me an opportunity, I could build the same program. So he gave me that opportunity and I built that program exactly to the specifications that they needed. I didn't get paid $600,000, I got my regular pay cheque and went home."

After this, he decided to start his own computing business. However, his first big business idea happened when he saw his father struggling with Alzheimer's. He built a device that could be inserted into his father's shoe and allowed him to track the whereabouts of his father, who would often wander off because of the rapid progression of the disease.

"My father could wander off and I could press a button on my laptop and say, 'Hey Dad, where are you?' I would come in as a loudspeaker on his shoe, and he would say, 'Fred, I don't know where I am!'"

Freddie was only 24, when his dad died, aged 81, in 2014. He later sold his shoe tracker ingestion for $2.2 million.

Freddie's story from poverty to prosperity serves as a great reminder to people who want to make it big despite their circumstances. After this point, Freddie went on to invent various devices like the smart glucometer that instantly shares a person's blood sugar levels with their closest relative.

After this, he started working on updating communications to the rural areas of the United States. "I had to petition to show that the bigger telecom carriers are not going to come in and invest their infrastructure into a rural area with populations of less than 1,000," he said.

He was soon providing services in rural areas of north Florida as well as southern Georgia. His company, Figger Communications Inc., has since grown steadily. He later married Natalie Figgers, an attorney back in 2015. The couple share a little girl. Currently, Figger also runs a foundation that invests in education and healthcare. Recent schemes have included donating bicycles to children in foster care and PPE to people on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic. Freddie realizes that he has a purpose to serve, and wants to use Money as a tool to build and leave this world in a better condition before he leaves.

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