It was in 1989 when Freddie Figgers took the news by storm, after being found next to a dumpster as an infant. Years later, he grew up to be a business owner with millions to his name. This is the tale of a man who did not let his circumstances define his future.
A Twist Of Fate
Quincy was a small city in Gadsden County, Florida, with an estimated population of 7,000 people in the '80s. Of those residents were long-term partners, Nathan and Betty Mae Figgers, whose lives were about to alter forever.
On September 28, 1989, while dumpster diving, the couple stumbled upon a baby boy amid the trash. The baby was only 2 days old when they decided to take him in and gave him a forever home. Fortunately for him, the couple was no stranger to caring for children, as they frequented as foster parents.
A Forever Home
The couple was relatively old at the time of little Freddie's adoption. They were nearly seniors and came from humble backgrounds. Life wasn’t easy for them as they had to work several jobs to make ends meet. Mr. Figgers had to juggle two jobs as a handyman and maintenance worker while his wife worked as a farmer.
“I saw my father always helping people, stopping on the side of the road helping strangers, feeding the homeless,” Freddie recalled with pride. “He was an incredible man, and for them to take me in and raise me, that’s the man I want to be like.” But the reality wasn’t always sweet.
One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure
The couple may have been poor, but they were rich in things money couldn't buy: love. Freddie never had to doubt his parents because he knew he could always count on them. One of the ways they showed they cared was by dumpster diving. They did it in hopes of finding items they could bring back to their son.
One man's trash may be another man's treasure was a saying that Freddie was well-acquainted with from his humble upbringing. But some treasures seemed more out of reach than others: a Gateway computer. "We couldn't afford one," Freddie recalled. But all that would soon change.
The Ugly Truth
After many happy years in the Figgers household, Freddie naturally began to grow curious. He wanted to know the truth about his birth mother and why she abandoned him. So, at only eight years old, Freddie decided that he wanted to know the truth and sought help from Nathan.
Although he wanted to help his son find out the truth, Nathan was not very eager to share what little information he had about Freddie's birth mother, let alone her story. He was afraid of Freddie's reaction and how it might affect everything they held dear.
A Father’s Love
Freddie remembered how his father eventually told him the truth. “[Nathan] said,‘ 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.”
"When he told me that, I thought, 'Okay, I am garbage,' and I felt unwanted," Freddie recalled. However, Nathan made sure to remind him what was important. "But he grabbed me by the shoulder and said, 'Listen, do not let this get you down.'" Despite his loving home, Freddie could not unlearn the truth.
Freddie knew that his adoptive parents loved him unconditionally, but that was not enough for his self-confidence. Because once he entered school, Freddie experienced the heartbreak of his past all over again as his peers ruthlessly bullied him for his rough start in life.
When his classmates learned of his story, the tormenting began. They would hurl hurtful words at him. "The kids bullied me, calling me 'garbage baby,' 'garbage boy,' 'nobody wants you,' 'you are dirty.'" Unfortunately for Freddie, that was not the hard times that came his way.
There Was Nothing He Could Do
"I remember sometimes getting off the school bus and kids would come up behind me and just grab me and throw me in a trash can and laugh at me." Over time, the verbal abuse took a physical turn. Freddie, feeling like a target and helpless, asked Nathan for help in hopes that it would put an end to his bullying.
Believing that his father, though slightly elderly, would save him from endless torment, he had him wait at the bus stop to escort him home and shield him from his bullies. Unfortunately for him, Nathan was not spared either. He remembered them laughing at his father and saying, "Haha, look at the old man with the cane."
Hitting The Jackpot
For a long time, Freddie believed he would never see the end of his struggles. But little did he know, his fate was soon to change. And eventually, his tormentors would be the same people who would look to him and his multi-million dollar enterprise for inspiration.
By sheer luck, Nathan and Freddie came across an old computer at their local Goodwill. And after negotiating with the sales associate, they were able to make Nathan's dream a reality - even if the computer barely worked. "We persuaded the sales associate, and he said, 'Hey, I'll give it to you for $24,'" Freddie shared.
A Newfound Hobby
Freddie was overjoyed that they had found a computer that was within their means. "So we took the computer home, and I was just so ecstatic." He knew he would get it working because he had previously spent a lot of time tinkering with beat-up equipment and hardware.
Being tech-savvy and experienced with electronics, he did not hesitate to take it apart, find the problem, and put it all back together to get it working again. "When I got home, and it wouldn't come on, I took the computer apart," he said. But this wouldn't just be a hobby.
A Step To The Right Direction
"As I was looking in it, I saw capacitors that were broken." Given his tight budget, Freddie had to be resourceful in fixing his computer. "I had soldering guns there, and I had radios and alarm clocks, so I took part out of my father's radio alarm clock, and I soldered them into the circuit board."
After many failed attempts, Freddie finally achieved victory when the computer screen lit up after the fiftieth time. He felt a sense of accomplishment after getting a nearly ten-year-old computer working again. That was the moment he knew what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
A Way Out
Once he got the computer working, Freddie discovered his calling and passion in life. He found such joy and satisfaction in it. Slowly, technology became a way for him to temporarily forget his tormenters and gave him a reason to keep going in life, despite everything.
"That computer took away all of the pain of getting bullied," Freddie remembered. It became a way for him to escape the cruelty of his classmates and their painful words. No matter what came his way, Figgers couldn't shake his newfound passion. "I can't wait to get home to play with my computer," he recalled.
Getting The Recognition
At the young age of 12, Freddie had the drive and passion to take him far in life. Although he did not know it at the time, he laid the foundation for his successful career by attending an after-school program and focusing on working on his skills instead of spending his free time elsewhere, unlike his peers.
Freddie always went out of his way to fix computers that needed fixing - that was just the type of kid he was. "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," Freddie recalled. Soon, school workers started to pay attention.
It seemed that Freddie had once again lucked out and hit the jackpot because the staff member who had recognized Freddie's potential and talent was none other than the mayor of his hometown. Coincidentally, she also ran Freddie's extra-curricular initiative.
Having proven his talents, Freddie got his next gig. "She shows me all of these computers in the back, oh gosh maybe 100 of them stacked up, and she says, 'I need these computers repaired.'" Freddie had visited the town's city hall with the mayor and left with his first job.
Different From The Rest
Although Freddie was only 12 years old, that did not stop the mayor and the other government employees from believing in his talent. This opportunity gave him an early start in his career. Freddie worked for $12 an hour fixing the stack of computers in the back room. That was more than any of his peers were making at the time.
Freddie, out of goodwill and pure interest, agreed to take the job. "It wasn't even about the money." He explained, "I had an opportunity to do something that I loved to do, and it was just so fun to me." People admired his work ethic because of his commitment to school and the new job.
A New Challenge
The money and positive attention he received aside, Freddie was exhilarated about his new lifestyle. How many 12-year-olds were making their own money and have a client as important as the town mayor? This proved to be the gateway to a successful career for little Freddie.
On one particular day, the unsuspecting boy heard the city manager call out, "Hey, Freddie's a computer dork, he could probably help with this." He later found out that they needed a coder to get a computer program to track the water pressure in town. But his colleagues weren't aware that he lacked experience in the field.
Stepping Out Of His Comfort Zone
The small town of Quincy tried to get the help of professionals but, when they learned that they would need $600,000 to do so, they decided that Freddie would be the next best option. Even though he did not have the skills, Freddie decided to give it a shot.
"I said, 'Sir, if you give me an opportunity, I could build the same program,'" he stated. "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 paycheck and went home." However, this would be the first of many big projects for him.
Doing Things His Way
Because of his success with the project, he gained attention and was featured in several news outlets in his town. As he sat back and reflected on his new reality, he realized that with his newfound success, he came to the realization that he needed to learn in his own way.
It took a few years to fully comprehend, but by the time he was 15 years old, he knew what was needed to turn his dreams into reality. To do so, however, Freddie had to do the unthinkable, and according to his parents, that meant dropping out of high school.
An Unwanted Disease
"They believed in education, work, retirement," Freddie said. "I wanted to break the chain; I wanted to do something different." But even though his parents were unhappy with his decision, it did not stop them from supporting him. Freddie was persistent and challenged the norm. However, some devastating news soon came his way.
After a few successful years with his new entrepreneurial project, the Figgers family received the show of a lifetime. Nathan was suffering from Alzheimer's disease, and according to Freddie, it seemed to get worse with each passing day. Little did they know what would come after.
Things Took a Turn for the Worse
His father had recurring episodes where he would wake up at random hours act out scenarios from shows he had seen on the TV. Most of the time, they did not panic because he had not done anything harmful. Until one fateful night. "[It was] the most traumatizing thing that ever happened to me," Freddie recalled.
"It was about two o’clock one morning, and my father used to like this old western called Gunsmoke, and he came into my bedroom, and he thought he was [the main character] Matt Dillon," Freddie continued, "He had a rifle in his hand, and told me... 'I'm going to need you to get out of town.'"
Nowhere to Be Found
"Bit of a tussle" was how Freddie described the whole ordeal. Having disarmed his father successfully, he returned his dad to his room and went right back to sleep. However, that was not the end of the story. Come morning, he realized that his father wasn't at home.
As his Alzheimer's progressed, Nathan slipped out of the watchful eye of Betty Mae and Freddie now and then. Most of the time, he left the safety of his home and roamed about unsupervised until he was found. Yet, somehow, in the chaos that is his father's tragic illness, Freddie managed to find a silver lining.
Ahead Of Its Time
The emotional turmoil and chaos his father had caused inspired him to find a solution to his problem. He was concerned for his father's health and safety. He decided to take matters into his own hands. "So I got my dad's shoes, I cut the sole of the shoe open," Freddie explained.
"I built the circuit board and placed it inside of the show with a 90 megahertz speaker, a microphone, and a wide area network card," the tech whiz explained. "I integrated that with my laptop - this was before Apple maps or Google maps - and I integrated that through the TomTom, Garmin platform." But was it enough?
His New Device
His new solution was somewhat revolutionary, for it was ahead of its time and did its job well. His DIY device involved inserting a tracking device in his father's shoe to determine his location if he ever left the house unattended again. It saved them from countless potential tragedies.
"My father could actually 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 recalled. He knew exactly how much potential his new invention had.
A Devastating Loss
He may have invented a device to aid in keeping his father safe, but it could not save his father from his condition. So he resorted to taking his father everywhere he went. "One time I was in a meeting, and I looked out the window and... oh my gosh, my dad had let the back window down and climbed out," he stated.
"So I was in panic mode, and it was embarrassing, but I was like, 'Hey, I have to go.'" Freddie recalled. However, just a few years later, the Figgers family suffered a terrible loss. Freddie's father lost his life. "It honestly broke me," he went on to say. "Because all I ever wanted to do was make my dad happy."
A Father’s Dream
As it turned out, the death of his father came with something beautiful. Freddie's idea was bought by a company that had acquired the rights to the device for $2.2 million. But instead of spending it on himself, he decided to use the money to fulfill one of his late dad's greatest wishes.
Freddie was always grateful for Nathan and had always wanted to repay him. He knew that a Ford pickup truck and a boat to go fishing in was all his father had dreamed about. Unfortunately, it took a tragedy to earn the money Freddie needed to fulfill it. If only he'd had a little more time.
An Important Lesson
Freddie looked beyond the heartbreak and understood a deeper meaning to life. "That really opened my eyes and taught me that money is nothing but a tool, and I'm going to do everything in my power to try to make the world a better place before I leave it," he explained.
"Knowing my father, he wasn't a rich man at all, but he [made an impact on] so many people's lives, and I want to just do right by everyone I meet and help everyone I can." he shared. He didn't know it then, but he was much closer to affording the finer things in life while giving back to the community, just like his father.
Tragedy Struck Again
Following his father's death, another incident with a family member led to another invention - this time, it was an uncle. "[We] were knocking on [his] front door and he wouldn't come to the door," Freddie recalled. He and his mother were about to experience another heartbreak.
They eventually made their way into the house and were met by a devastating sight. His diabetic uncle had succumbed to his condition. He was alone and had no one to monitor his above-average sugar levels. For this reason, Freddie invented the glucometer, which shared a person's blood level with those who could help.
Bringing An Idea To Life
The latest invention did a world of good for those with diabetes. But Freddie's mission to help people was far from over. His next challenge to tackle was the lack of rapid internet access in rural America. While most large cities had 2G or 3G infrastructure, his small town was still roughing it with dial-up.
"I had to petition to show that the bigger telecom careers are not going to come in and invest their infrastructure into a rural area," Freddie stated. One of the solutions Freddie had, was to start a telecommunications company. However, it had proved to be harder than he thought.
Only The Beginning
While the solution was sound, the process was anything but. It took nearly 400 attempts and a big sum of money to achieve the desired goal. The entire project took a lot of time, but in the end, it was worth it as he became the youngest telecom operator in America.
And at just 21 years old, Freddie proved that commitment and passion can take you far by becoming the youngest telecom owner in the country and being the only Black-owned telecom company in the United States to boot. At such a young age and with many accomplishments, this was just the beginning for him.
No Longer a One-Man Show
In the beginning, Freddie had no one but himself. He was the boss and the employee. At the start of his business, it seemed like his technical skills and knowledge would be enough to keep the business going. And because of his background, Freddie was never afraid to get his hands dirty, inside or outside the office.
From laying the foundation for a cell tower to installing cables, Freddie did it all. In 2011, the company expanded into areas like North Florida and other southern states and Freddie eventually hired more employees to make his vision a reality. And with expansion came wealth.
His New Reality
Freddie had made a fortune with this new company and his successes. As stated by multiple sources, his net worth is now well over $60 million. The leap from where he is now and where he came from is admirable. And without a doubt, inspiring to others.
Thanks to Freddie's perseverance and talent, he has made something of his life and can live a life of luxury while helping those in need. He is now living a life we can all dream of having. Who would have thought that his rough start in life would lead him to become a millionaire?
A Lawyer Wife
So Freddie went from dumpster diving to having a net worth of millions. But what's the point of owning luxury cars and a massive home if you don't have anyone to share it with? Fortunately, Figgers found someone to do exactly that, and it didn't take long for them to tie the knot.
When Freddie met Natalie, the duo quickly fell in love. The woman who ultimately became Mrs. Figgers was a lawyer, and the two had many values in common: they both prioritized family and loved to work hard, play hard. As many couples do, they soon took things to the next level.
Starting a Family
Freddie's relationship to the idea of a family might've been complicated for some time. He had loving parents all of his life, but being abandoned by his biological mother impacted Figgers' childhood. But after meeting Natalie, there was no doubt about starting a family together.
The young millionaire wanted to pass on the lessons of love and hard work that his parents taught him. He wanted to raise kids in a disciplined and loving household. So he and Natalie welcomed three kids together: two sons and a daughter. And as his family expanded, so did the Figgers empire.
A Wireless Network Company
If there's one thing that was obvious early on in Freddie's life, it's that he was always a big dreamer. By 21 years old, the entrepreneur had successfully created his own telecommunications company. And the one-person show eventually turned into a company hiring many employees.
But that wasn't where the ideas ended. After Figgers established the telecommunications company to bring services to rural areas that lacked it, he moved on to another project: a wireless network company. It might be hardly surprising to hear that Freddie also created his own cell phone.
He Invented a Phone
Having his own telecommunications and wireless network companies, it made perfect sense that Freddie released a phone. The "Figgers F1" hit the market in 2016 with plenty of impressive features. For starters, the cell had a motion detection device that switched to "safe mode" when in motion above ten miles per hour.
Figgers released the F3 model by 2019, and it included a dual-SIM feature, extreme impact and water resistance, and a stellar camera. Most recently, Freddie's DragonX went public. The newest cell phone offered an infrared thermometer and triple back cameras. And that's not all.
Plenty of Other Electronics
Figgers Wireless wasn't limited to cell phones or network coverage plans at reasonable prices. The millionaire entrepreneur wanted to bring more accessible technology, from cell phones to televisions. And that's what Freddie did as his company expanded.
Figgers Wireless boasted a LED universal charger, a car charger, two models of wireless Bluetooth earbuds, a smart television, a wireless speaker, and four cell phone models in just a matter of years. And thanks to the company's hard work, it went international.
Figgers' International Work
Freddie's technology spread all around the United States. "Our mobile broadband internet access offers data coverage to over 280 million people located in over 15,900 cities nationwide," the company's website proudly boasted. But they also went beyond North America's borders.
"We are providing nationwide coverage and our aim is to cover the entire world," Figgers Wireless announced. "So far we are providing call and text services to more than 80 countries." These services included cellular, mobile broadband, and home phone connections.
And as Freddie took on new ventures, he made sure not to forget the old ones. The talented businessman also expanded Figgers Health, the company created to sell his glucose meter invention. The organization worked on more products that would help people who lived with chronic health issues.
One of their newest inventions? A low-frequency radio band device that allowed implanted devices, from pacemakers to defibrillators, to be "connected to stream faster data transmission speeds for cardiovascular remote devices," as Freddie explained. The technology permitted doctors to monitor patients remotely.
And just when we thought the Figgers empire couldn't expand anymore, we were proved wrong. The high school dropout successfully created various companies: a health technology, telecommunications, and a wireless network company. So naturally, Freddie then started a business that people could use to buy these products.
The genius entrepreneur launched FiggCash: a credit and debit card line. The brand offers premium luxury metal titanium cards for all credit types issued via Visa and MasterCard. As Freddie came up with new ideas, the cash kept flowing in. Fortunately, he did plenty of good with it.
His Philanthropic Efforts
Practically the moment Freddie made the big bucks, the entrepreneur knew he wanted to give back. What started as sporadic donations turned into the Figgers Foundation, a non-profit founded by the young millionaire that worked to bring positive change around the country.
Just one example of the foundation's goodwill was a donation Figgers made to the Gadsden County Sheriff's Office Jail in Florida. The non-profit donated computers for the inmates who were in the TTC GED program. And Freddie's generosity wasn't limited to one area.
Freddie used his fortunate and foundation money for a variety of charitable work: the Figgers Foundation sponsored nearly 900 children to attend school in Zambia and donated 500 phones and SIM cards with unlimited calls to Puerto Rico after the 2017 hurricane.
The Figgers Foundation also gave speakers and earbuds to elementary school students in New Jersey and 700,000 PPE kits to frontline workers of the coronavirus pandemic. The baby left by a dumpster is living the good life - and helping others do the same.