Frederick Hutson is some type of super combination of optimist meets opportunist, as he sees a chance to capitalize on the possibilities in almost every situation. He admits, this has worked out to be a gift and a curse in his life, but he’s finally mastered it and found a way to use it to make him millions.
His specialty was observing situations, finding the need or issue at hand and coming up with a money generating solution. He had built several businesses both before and after his stint in the Air Force, from which he was honorably discharged. After his perspective landed him a four year jail sentence for drug trafficking, he began using his time in jail to reflect and came to find a large problem within the penal system that he knew he could fix.
Hutson realized that for the 2.3 million inmates serving their time, it was increasingly difficult to keep in contact with friends and family on the outside. In the age of digital communication with text messages and e-mails, those in prison often find it hard to keep up communications with love ones as there is no access to the internet offered in jail, so all correspondence is either via snail mail or the phone, both of which leaves much to be desired. Many times they are left to feel abandoned, as pictures and letters are few and far in between and there is usually a long waiting line and short limit to your time on the phone.
And so Pigeonly was born. In its essence, it’s a platform that centralizes the state-level databases, making it simpler to track inmates, as they are often transferred from prison to prison during their sentence. Through its sub-brands, Fotopigeon, which sends digital prints of pictures from your computer, Instagram or Facebook to inmates and Telepigeon, which lowers phone call rates through VoIP, Pigeonly is set to be profitable on $1 million in its first year.
The Las Vegas-based company owes much of its success to being accepted by NewMe, a Silicon Valley-based accelerator for underrepresented minorities, founded by Angela Benton, a black highly accomplished technological innovator.
Prisons really are a large pool of potential entrepreneurs. Outside of the violent criminals, those incarcerated for drug rings, ponzi schemes and other such activities clearly have business acumen and drive that simply needs to be redirected into legal activities. If more institutions focused on not only housing these individuals, but rehabilitating them and helping their grow their strengths, there is a strong possibility of turning them into contributing and successful members of society upon their release.
To read the full Forbes article, click here.