“That could be me on the streets—I could have been homeless or dead if I hadn’t been found by the dumpster after I was born.” Abandoned by a dumpster, Freddie Figgers has defied the odds in more ways than one.
Only a few days old, Freddie Figgers was left next to a dumpster in rural Florida. A passerby noticed him in distress and called the police. Freddie was checked into a hospital where he stayed for 2 days to recover from his minor injuries.
Once stable, Freddie was placed into the foster care system. He was taken in by Nathan and Betty Figgers who lived in nearby Quincy, Florida and already had a daughter of their own.
The Figgers, regular foster parents, quickly decided to adopt Freddie.
Growing up, Freddie was bullied by other kids in elementary being called the “dumpster baby.”
“It’s a rural area, so after it happened, everybody heard about it,” said Figgers, now 30. “My parents told me the truth about what happened as I grew older. I thought about it a lot as a kid, and I’d have to say it was embarrassing when I was younger.”
However, it was also during his elementary school years that Freddie found his passion for computers. His dad, Nathan, bought Freddie an old 1989 Macintosh at a thrift store for $25 to tinker with.
“He thought that a computer might help to keep me out of trouble,” said Figgers.
It worked. At just 9-years-old, Freddie disassembled and reassembled the computer multiple times. Next, he figured out how to use some old radio parts to fix the Macintosh so it would power up.
“I still have it,” Figgers said about that first computer. “It’s what sparked my interest in technology.”
By 13, Freddie was so good at tinkering with computers the city of Quincy started hiring him to fix their computers. By 15, he started his first company out of his parents’ living room called Figgers Computers. He specialized in fixing computers and helping clients store data on servers he created.
“I wouldn’t recommend my path to everyone,” said Figgers referring to dropping out of college. “But it worked for me. When I was 17, I had 150 clients that needed websites and storage for their files. I just kept building from there.”
By Freddie’s early 20’s, Nathan Figgers developed Alzheimer’s. Before Nathan passed in 2014, Freddie had invented a GPS tracking, two-way communication device to help find and keep track of his dad when he would wander off confused.
“I created a device that I could insert in his shoe that would allow me to track him, plus talk to him through his shoe,” said Figgers. “It was difficult to watch him decline—it’s something you never forget. I’ve always been so grateful to him and my mom. They taught me not to let my circumstances define who I was.”
In spite of this difficult circumstance, Freddie was able to sell his GPS tracking invention to an undisclosed company for $2.2 million in 2012 at age 23.
His privately-owned company, Figgers Wireless which sells smartphones and data plans, was appraised in 2017 at more than $62 million. Figgers is proud of his business, but he says that he is still passionate about combining technology with health care and safety.
“The best thing any human being can do is influence another one,” said Figgers.
He sells a wireless blood glucose meter for people with diabetes that allows patients to download and share glucose levels through Bluetooth technology. And he is working on a project similar to his “smart shoe” technology to help families stay in touch with loved ones experiencing homelessness.
“That could be me on the streets—I could have been homeless or dead if I hadn’t been found by the dumpster after I was born,” he said.
Freddie learned when he had grown up that his birth mother was a prostitute with a drug addiction. He has not met her and says he has no interest in doing so.
“My parents adopted me and gave me love and a future,” he said. “They did their best to make the world a better place, and now that’s all I want to do, too.”