Abandoned at two days old in a trash can and adopted by an older couple who raised him as their son, Freddie Figgers’ story as a technology entrepreneur began at nine years old, when his father bought him a broken computer at a Goodwill store that he restored to life with borrowed parts from other electronics around the house. It was the start of his career as an inventor, software developer, and now at age 32, the CEO of Figgers Communication, the nation’s only minority-owned telecommunications company. The company provides cellular and broadband services in rural areas and manufactures consumer electronics, including cellphones, from a manufacturing facility in Doral, Florida.
“I meet so many people across the country that don’t like their job. They get up every morning and they go to work. You have to find what you’re in love with in order to excel in it,” he told the Club in a fireside chat format with Club Vice President Marion Hoffmann, Vice President of Business Solutions for Indelible Solutions. “Technology was my passion – innovating, creating something new, and helping others. And every product that we’ve built to date has made an impact on people’s lives.”
That “passion with a purpose,” as Figgers calls it, began at age 15, when he quit school because of bullying and to take care of his father, who had developed dementia and would leave the house and wander around town. It was the necessity of his dad’s illness that became the mother of his first invention: A GPS tracker embedded with a two-way communicator in the sole of his dad’s shoe, allowing him to talk to and find his dad when he became lost. It became the precursor to today’s Life Alert ® product. Figgers sold the rights to the tracker for $2.2 million in January 2014, receiving the check on the same day as his father passed away. It was the first of several medical informatics inventions and programs he has developed under his other company, Figg Health.
“The best thing my father ever taught me was staying grounded. Never forget who you are. Don’t forget where you come from, and always pay it forward. If you can help somebody else you do it without hesitating,” Figgers said. More than 20% of his company profits are invested in philanthropy, including The Figgers Foundation that helps disadvantaged children and families and provides grants for education and healthcare projects.
Figgers discussed current supply chain issues and his company’s work overseas, including helping Kenya expand its 5G cellular network through Safaricom. He said he’s also working on a pending business deal with Meta in the augmented reality space. For now, he said he has no interest in taking his company public, despite many offers. Among his employees are some of the bullies that used to bother him in school. Freddie Figgers represents the Florida-born talent who are developing businesses and creating jobs and his story is truly inspirational.