Frederick Hutson is the CEO and co-founder of Pigeonly, a platform that makes it easy for people to search, find, and communicate with an incarcerated loved one. A born entrepreneur, he launched and sold his first business at the age of 19 while on active duty in the Air Force. After an honorable discharge in 2005, he went on to build and sell his second business.
Though his entrepreneurial spirit often led him to new opportunities, his desire to attain the American Dream on his terms took him down the wrong path. At 23, he was sent to federal prison for the illegal distribution of 3,000 kg of marijuana. It was this life-changing experience that motivated him to build a solution that would positively impact the lives of people no one else was paying attention to – inmates and their families. The idea of Pigeonly was born.
Launched in 2012, Pigeonly makes it possible for subscribers to easily send printed photos, letters, greeting cards, postcards, and even online articles from any cell phone, tablet or computer within a few clicks. One of Pigeonly’s most successful products is a low-cost VoIP phone solution, similar to Google Voice, for notoriously expensive prison phone calls. This product alone helps families save over $2MM/year in predatory phone fees per year.
Under Frederick’s leadership, Pigeonly has become one of the largest independent inmate services providers in the country. His innovative approach to disrupting the $4 billion predatory prison services industry has led him to further developing Pigeonly’s core proprietary technology, an application programming interface (API) which searches and organizes thousands of Federal, State, and County records per day. This process extracts the information needed to identify and determine the location of over 1.5MM inmates across 17K prison facilities in real time – a critical component that drives all of Pigeonly’s consumer-facing products. With subscribers in 88 countries and growing, Pigeonly reduces recidivism by keeping families connected while helping them save millions in predatory fees every year.
Pigeonly’s accomplishments in the space have not gone unnoticed and have allowed Hutson’s voice to be a part of the overall criminal justice reform conversation. His influence has led to his expertise being sought by notable academic and government stakeholders including Columbia University, Yale, The White House, and many others. He has also volunteered his time on the boards of Pentorship and Defy Ventures.
Hutson’s work has been featured in numerous national and international media outlets, including CNN Money, Forbes, New York Times, Fast Company, and Complex, et al. He leads a growing team from their Las Vegas headquarters and has raised over $10MM in venture capital from notable investors including Tim Draper, Mitch Kapor, Laurene Powell Jobs, and Joe Montana.