By Nigel Boys
After being in the Air Force for a while, Frederick Hutson decided to go into business for himself and was doing well with that until he came upon an idea for a business that landed him in prison for over four years.
He wasn’t exactly what you would think of as the typical criminal, but so few who are serving time are, according to Hutson. He just saw an opportunity to make money by using couriers, such as FedEx, UPS and DHL, to reroute marijuana through his Florida business.
However, prison life didn’t discourage the 24-year-old, he just turned his natural talent for business into thinking up legal ways of making money and found one in the very institution in which he was incarcerated.
Hutson realized that many inmates find that keeping in touch with their families can be difficult and expensive. He adds that the only way to communicate with loved ones, when you are an inmate, is through the time consuming mail system or extremely expensive phone calls.
Another problem with communicating with loved ones doing time is that they are often moved from prison to prison without notifying their families, said Hutson.
Hutson came up with the idea of creating a website that would print out emails, texts or photos from a computer, including social media sites, and mail them directly to the prisons in plain white envelopes. He came up with another program, which he later named Pigeonly, to help people quickly find where their loved ones had been taken.
When Hutson was released from prison, he and his co-founder, Alfonzo Brooks, quickly developed a platform with the help of NewMe, a Silicon Valley-based accelerator program that works with minorities. The initial problem was finding investors for his idea, according to Hutson. He adds that only 10% of those he talked to eventually said yes to his idea.
Eventually Hutson and Brooks got the $2 million investment they needed, and with the help of inmates they’ve contacted, now have a thriving business which is well on its way to making its first $1 million.
Way to go brother, we’re very proud of you.