When Freddie's adoptive parents found him next to a dumpster, they could only dream of the man he'd one day become. Today, his million-dollar net worth proves that hard work and ambition can change everything. Here's his story.
Back in the 1980s
Located in the small town of Quincy, Florida, lived Nathan and Betty Mae Figgers. Their life was typical up until the late 1980s, when one fateful night and a little small something by a dumpster completely changed everything.
Without any biological children, Betty and Nathan opted for the foster-parent route and became the guardians of several kids. But, one child, born September 26, 1989, struck a chord with them and soon became their son via adoption. The little one's name was Freddie, and his future accomplishments would shock his parents.
Love in the Figgers Family
Upon his adoption, Freddie's parents were already middle-aged. They now had a two-day-old child, and he needed their full attention. Even with Nathan working in maintenance and Betty Mae employed in agriculture, they showered him in affection and care. And, their efforts didn't go unnoticed…
"I saw my father always helping people, stopping on the side of the road helping strangers, feeding the homeless," Freddie gushed. "He was an incredible man, and for them to take me in and raise me, that's the man I want to be like." Despite this, the young boy didn't always get the long end of the stick.
Dumpster Diving Became the Norm
While there may have been an overflowing amount of love in the Figgers family, they, unfortunately, did not have the same experience when it came to finances. Despite this, the Figgers wanted to find Freddie the things he wished for, so they turned to dumpster diving.
"I always wanted a Gateway computer, but at that time, we couldn't afford one," Freddie explained. While picking through other people's trash wasn't necessarily the most glorious way to get something new, the saying: 'One man's trash is another man's treasure,' rang true in this case.
Freddie's Search for the Truth
While digging seemed to become a common activity in the family's home, Freddie began to think through his life, specifically his early childhood. He knew his parents weren't his birth parents, but there was something about his 'real' mom that piqued his interest.
So, at just 8-years-old, Freddie began asking his dad questions. Nathan knew the answers to his son's inquires might hurt his feelings. But despite the impact it would have, he knew the truth had to come out sometime. The issue was that the young boy was destined to be crushed by the information he was searching for.
"She Threw You Away... And We Adopted You"
Nathan was right - the information he shared with his son shocked him to his core. "[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,'" the young boy shared.
The birth mom of little Freddie had deserted him beside a large garbage can in Florida. "I was like, 'Ok, I'm trash,' and I felt unwanted," the hurt son recalled. "But he grabbed my shoulder, and he said, 'Listen, don't you ever let that bother you.'" Unfortunately, Fred was already far past hurt by the information.
He Faced Constant Bullying
Despite a constant outpour of love from his adopted family, Freddie became overwhelmed by feeling cast aside and forgotten about by his biological mom. If that wasn't bad enough, though, soon his classmates found out his secret. Then, there was no hiding.
"Kids used to bully me and call me, 'Dumpster baby,' 'Trash can boy,' 'Nobody wants you,' 'You're dirty,'" Fred recalled of his experiences at school. His classmates were relentless and didn't let Freddie catch a break. As the bullying went on, the young boy became massively torn down. His self-esteem had flown out the window.
Not Even Freddie's Dad Could Help
Even when Freddie thought the taunting couldn't get any worse, it did. The spoken mockery soon turned into physical disputes. "I remember getting off the school bus sometimes, and kids used to just come behind and grab me and throw me in a trash can and laugh at me," Figgers said of the experience. What was the family to do?
Ultimately, the trio decided that Nathan would accompany Freddie to and from the bus stop in hopes of decreasing the volume of bullying. But, this plan soon backfired as the young tormentors then got a chance to take digs at Mr. Figgers. "Ha ha, look at the old man with the cane," the teenagers mocked.
A Stroke of Luck
Putting an end to the taunting seemed impossible, but Freddie felt that these mean teens would soon gain respect for him one day. He just needed to find a way to make that happen. Luckily, he had a safe haven at home with his parents Betty Mae and Nathan.
After months of picking through trash cans in search of a computer, Freddie and his dad finally found their treasure. A damaged Macintosh computer seemed to be waiting for them at Goodwill. "We persuaded the sales associate," Figgers recalled. In the end, the family purchased the machine for $24.
An At-Home Repair
Thankfully, the family had enough to make the purchase. "So we took the computer home, and I was just so ecstatic," Freddie said of when he got his first computer. The machine itself was nearly destroyed, but 9-year-old Freddie stepped up to the challenge.
After all, this wasn't the first time the young boy played his hand at fixing technological-oriented items. "When I got home, and it wouldn't come on, I took the computer apart," Freddie recalled. And, the series of events that occurred next altered Fred's life forever.
His Skills Were Unmatched
"As I was looking in it, I saw capacitors that were broken," he noted after taking the machine apart. "I had soldering guns there, and I had radios and alarm clocks, so I took parts out of my father's radio alarm clock, and I soldered them into the circuit board," said Freddie.
Finally, after nearly 50 attempts, the configurations of odds and ends that he put together finally worked! At just 9-years-old, little Figgers was beside himself when the computer screen finally turned on. At that moment, Fred realized this was his passion, which could turn into his unique talent.
"I Can't Wait to Get Home"
Once his screen was up and running, Freddie was content with himself and his ability to revive a machine that seemed to have been on its last leg. He finally had an escape from the bullies in his life. It was then that Figgers realized that he was destined to work with electronics.
"That computer took away all of the pain of getting bullied," Freddie recalled. The computer became an oasis within the safe space his parents created, and when he experienced bullying, he could only think: "I can't wait to get home to play with my computer."
His Peers Took Notice
With time, Freddie got so good at fixing technology that he expanded his self-started business outside of his house. By the time he turned 12, the pre-teen was busy in post-school programs. But, while many of the children ran around the playground, Freddie could be found in the computer room.
Soon, Figgers was spending his days repairing dilapidated machines. "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," he recalled. It was a short while before the school's staff recognized his unique abilities.
The City Mayor Got Involved
While teachers may have caught on to Freddie's hustle, they indeed weren't the only ones! In fact, the city of Quincy's mayor, who also happened to be the post-school activity supervisor, caught word of the 12-year-old's skills too! She almost couldn't believe it…
Then, the mayor remembered that she might be able to help Freddie lean into his passion. "She shows me all of these computers in the back [of the town's city hall], oh gosh, maybe 100 of them stacked up, and she says, 'I need these computers repaired,'" he explained. And, this was the moment that changed everything.
He Began Making Money
Fred would later transform his skills into millions. But at this point, he was just beginning. There was no denying that he was reeling in the dough for a kid. Figgers was getting paid $12/hour for his efforts to fix the collection of computers at city hall!
But for Freddie, "It wasn't even really about the money…I had an opportunity to do something that I loved to do, and it was just so fun to me," the young man explained. Each day after school, Figgers would head to the government building. But soon enough, a more significant juncture appeared.
Could He Handle the Pressure?
This was an entirely new experience for Fred, as he was just a teenager, yet he was racking up responsibility. Finally, Figgers had found a healthy diversion from the bullying that he had encountered. And best of all? He was getting paid a lot to do it…
But, when the City Manager called down the hall, "Hey, Freddie's a computer dork, he could probably help with this." He learned the city was in need of help creating a computer program to track Quincy's water pressure system. But, this required a coding ability that the teen hadn't developed…
Saving Quincy $600,000
Quincy had already contacted several companies to get quotes of how much creating something like this could be. But, the third-party business charged a whopping $600,000, so this was unfortunately not an option. However, with Freddie now in the mix, the city questioned if there was something he could do to help.
Freddie gushed: "I said, 'Sir, listen, if you give me an opportunity, I could build the same program.'" With that, "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," revealed Figgers. Soon, he would reap tremendous benefits from the project.
He Dropped Out of High School
Typically when a student drops out of high school, it's not necessarily seen positively - but Freddie's case was different. He already had more skills than his school was teaching, so Figgers decided that conventional education wasn't for him. And he dropped out.
Years later, at just 15, Freddie leaped into a whole new way of living. Instead of attending high school classes, he opened his own computing company. Despite his wide success, Nathan and Betty Mae were not too thrilled about their son's arrangement.
Mr. Figgers Fell Very Ill
Per Freddie, his parents "Believed in education, work, retirement." Despite their traditional wishes, the teen said, "I wanted to break that chain; I wanted to do something different." Even though they didn't back their son's decision 100%, they supported him. But, all of a sudden, something terrible changed all of their lives.
Even though Freddie's business was flourishing, one member of the family fell very ill. Mr. Figgers began displaying signs of Alzheimer's disease, and his condition was worsening more and more with each passing day. Unfortunately, the family was wildly unprepared for the events that followed.
The "Most Traumatizing" Moment
Nathan's reactions to the disease were harmless at first. He would wake up in the middle of the night and begin to act out scenes from that day's TV shows. But, one night, Mr. Figgers began to act out a scene from a dangerous film. In the end, it became "The most traumatizing thing that ever happened to me," explained Freddie.
Fred further told the tale, "It was about 2 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." In an instant, "He had a rifle in his hand, and he told me... 'I'm going to need you to get out of town,'" Freddie said.
He Was Nowhere To Be Found
Reacting as fast as he could, Freddie and his father got into a "Bit of a tussle." But in the end, the son snatched the rifle from his dad. After urging Nathan back into his bed, he fell asleep, but Fred had a feeling the night's events weren't quite over yet…
When Figgers Jr. woke up the following morning, his dad was gone. The family couldn't find him anywhere and quickly grew frantic. Since the onset of his Alzheimer's, this was something Nathan began doing. In a sudden rush of inspiration, Fred got an idea that would make him a millionaire.
A New Safety Invention
After searching for what must have felt like forever, Freddie located his dad. But, the scare of the situation worried the young boy. He was immediately inspired to find a solution to put his and his mother's hearts at ease. "So I got my dad's shoes, I cut the sole of the shoe open," remembered Freddie.
"I built the circuit board and placed it inside of the shoe with a 90 megahertz speaker, a microphone, and a wide area network card," the young tech-wiz explained. "I integrated that with my laptop - this was before Apple maps or Google maps - and I integrated that through the TomTom, Garmin platform." Was this going to help?
He Created a Shoe Tracker
But, what was the purpose of this invention, really? Well, it allowed the Figger family to keep track of Nathan whenever he left the house without remembering to tell anyone. With the push of a button, Freddie could track the precise location of his dad.
"My father could…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!'" This would allow the son to alert his dad that he would be there soon. Fred knew this idea wasn't meant to be a small contraption.
His Father Passed Away
While this shoe tracker was a fantastic way to find a short-term solution to a long-term issue, unfortunately, the family didn't end up using it for too long. Nathan's Alzheimer's was increasing, and the tracker soon wasn't enough security. So, Freddie began to take his dad with him to work meetings.
"One time, I was in a meeting, and I looked out the window, and… my dad had let the back window down and climbed out," Fred said. "So I was in panic mode, and it was embarrassing… It honestly broke me," the teen recalled. Soon, Nathan passed away, and Freddie was devastated. "All I ever wanted to do was make my dad happy," he said.
His Idea Made Millions
Just prior to Nathan's passing, something incredible occurred that made Freddie feel like the king of the world. He sold his shoe tracker invention for an astounding $2.2M! The teen had imagined using that payment to help bring some of his dad's dreams to reality, but unfortunately, he never got the chance…
Freddie wanted to start by getting his father his dream car: A Ford pickup truck and a boat for fishing. The boy had become a young man and wanted to give back to his parents as much as he could. But, his dad passed away before he had the chance. Fred was utterly crushed and didn't know what to do next.
"Money Is Nothing But a Tool"
This disastrous happening was a hard pill for Freddie to swallow, but it taught him a valuable lesson. Figgers explained, "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."
"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," Freddie continued. In time, Fred would use his new earnings for the sake of a greater good, and because of it, much more dough was headed towards him.
A Second Profitable Invention
Post-tracker invention, Fred thought up another incredible idea after having a separate traumatizing experience with his uncle. "When we got to his house…[we] were knocking on the front door, and he wouldn't come to the door," Figgers said of his visit to see his relative.
After becoming incredibly worrisome, the family made their way inside the home and found Freddie's uncle. Unfortunately, he passed away from slipping into a diabetic coma. If only someone was alerted that the man's blood sugar level had skyrocketed, maybe he would still be alive today. So, Freddie came up with another big idea…
His Biggest Invention Yet
He created a glucometer that could follow and automatically share a person's blood sugar level with a doctor or family member. This invention could save the lives of thousands. But Fred wasn't done giving back to his community just yet. Another issue was on the rise in Quincy, this time, with the internet.
Back then, the surrounding rural areas in Quincy still used dial-up internet, while the rest of the U.S. was on 2G or 3G. To change this, "I had to petition to show that the bigger telecom carriers are not going to come in and invest their infrastructure into a rural area," explained Freddie. His future was looking up…
Making Telecommunication History
Despite the long process of bringing his idea to fruition, Freddie worked hard to make this happen for the Quincy area. To get his initial idea approved, Figgers spent a lot of money and time trying to form a plan. Then, once the real work began, Fred became the United States' youngest telecommunication operator ever!
In 2011, Figgers was 21-years-old, and finally, his efforts began to pay off. Freddie not only made history as the youngest operator in the U.S., but his business was also the only Black-owned telecommunications company in the country! But, this was only the beginning of this chapter of Fred's life.
Open For Opportunity
Freddie soon began to build an empire of his own. Initially, he was working tirelessly alongside just one other person. But he really needed more hands. While he was capable of doing each part of the process, such as installing cables or doing groundwork, Figgers wished for more help.
Thanks to all of the young man's dedication, Fred was able to expand his company to rural areas of North Florida and even into some of the other states in the South! In just a matter of years, Figgers was able to do more with his company than he ever imagined possible.
Living The Good Life
With his business continuing to grow over the years since its founding, Freddie has become even more wildly successful. At the time of this reporting, several sources have estimated that Figgers has a net worth of more than $70M! Not bad for someone who's only two years into their '30s, huh?
But, where is Freddie now? Well, aside from donating to a myriad of philanthropies, Figgers has made sure to live the life he always dreamed of for himself. From being an abandoned child to becoming a millionaire, Fred now is a married man and even has a daughter of his own!