Four people who turned prison stints into businesses

Imagine a place that’s bustling with commercial activity, where a customer can get anything from a haircut to a pair of sneakers for the right price - and where savvy businesspeople can hone their craft.


Former Prisoners Rethink Criminal Justice Through Entrepreneurship And Civic Technology

“Reentry has to begin the moment you’re sentenced to prison. You’ve got to start planning to come home.”

Tech Crunch


Her model has led to a wide range of investments. There’s Pigeonly, for example, which provides cut-rate communication services to connect America’s roughly 2.3 million prison inmates with their families on the outside, or Clinicas del Azúcar (Sugar Clini

Today's Ozy

Former Nevada inmate launches start up for U.S. prison population

Frederick Hutson is an ex-con who created a local startup to help the incarcerated connect with loved ones.

Channel 3 Las Vegas

How an Ex-Con Went from Inmate to Entrepreneur

Nineteen-year-old Frederick Hutson had a thriving business in 2003. The young entrepreneur took delivery of kilos of marijuana from a drug cartel in Nogales, Mexico, at a mailbox store he owned in Las Vegas and then repackaged and shipped it to contacts i


Interview with Founder Frederick Hutson

Episode 16 of Startup School Radio: Host Aaron Harris interviews YC partner Qasar Younis. Also on the show: Frederick Hutson, founder and CEO of

Wharton Startup School

From Inmate to Entreprenuer: How an Ex-Felon Created a $3 Million Startup Helping Prisoners

Right now there are nearly 2 million inmates in state, federal, and juvenile prisons in the United States. Ninety-five percent of them will eventually be freed, and nearly 700,000 of them are released every year—but two-thirds re-offend within three years


From Prison to Silicon Valley: How One Entrepreneur Spun a Jail Sentence Into a Y-Combinator Backed Startup

For even the most well-connected first-time entrepreneur, pitching investors can be a rejection-filled exercise in angst. Now, swap the stereotypical Stanford education for a four-year stint in federal prison, and replace the quintessential Uber-of-X app


Ex-Con Creates Tech Company To Help Inmates Stay In Touch With Families

Frederick Hutson was just 24 and living in St. Petersburg, Florida, when he was convicted on a drug trafficking charge. The Air Force veteran spent four years behind bars, serving out his sentence in eight different correctional facilities.

Huffington Post

EX-CON MAKES $3 MILLION WITH ‘PIGEONLY' INMATE SERVICE SITE is an online inmate service site that was created by an ex-con by the name of Frederick Hutson. The initial business venture was essentially started after Hutson served a four year bid. He originally was busted at his Vegas mail store, where he'

The Source, A Startup Focused On Serving The U.S. Prison Population, Joins Y Combinator

Ever since he was a teenager, Frederick Hutson has had a knack for business. When he was 19, he built a window-tinting business that he then turned around and sold for $50,000.

Tech Crunch

Episode 610: The Prisoner's Solution

Frederick Hutson is an entrepreneur whose biggest early venture landed him in prison for nearly five years—distributing marijuana through UPS and FedEx.



At the age 24, Frederick Hutson was convicted on drug charges and sent to prison for 
four years. Serving his sentence in eight different prisons and unable to stay connected with his family and loved ones, Hutson developed a business plan in jail for his



It was Frederick Hutson's first ride on “Con Air.” He boarded in Las Vegas while pondering what awaited him at trial in Florida, where he had been shipping hundreds of pounds of marijuana for the past four years.

Las Vegas Weekly

Pigeonly Has Cracked One of the Biggest Government Markets

Life hasn't been all sunshine and daisies for Frederick Hutson, but despite the adversity he's emerged victorious.


Entrepreneurs often tap personal experience for startup ideas. In Frederick Hutson's case, that experience was incarceration. "I just saw so many inefficiencies when I was in prison," he says.


How a Convicted Felon Built a $3 Million Startup Straight Out of Prison

Frederick Hutson looked like he had everything going for him: he had a clean record, built some businesses, served in the U.S. Air Force and had been discharged honorably. However, things took a major turn for the worse in 2007, when at a mere 24 years of


Frederick Hutson - From Prison Inmate to Chief Executive Officer

Frederick Hutson used his business savvy to devise a more efficient method of product distribution - but the product was marijuana...

Tavis Smiley Show

Ex-con launches startup aimed at inmates

In 2007, Frederick Hutson was sentenced to 51 months in prison for distributing marijuana.

CNN Money

How This Man Built A $3M Business A Year After Four Years In Prison

Frederick Hutson is a man who sees business opportunities in everything. By his own admission, this doesn't always work out for the best. Hutson spent over four years in prison after getting busted for an opportunity he saw in drug trafficking, a huge mar


This Startup is Taking On Prison's Other Form of Isolation

Frederick Hutson was always entrepreneurial. As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, he did odd jobs for neighbors, and after receiving an honorable discharge from the Air Force, he bought and sold a series of small businesses.

Pigeonly's CEO helps prison inmates

Not far from the slot machines and neon lights of the Strip, a few dozen tech companies hammer away at the future in a downtown area revitalized by Zappos founder Tony Hsieh. But you can bet that no founder here has a stranger story than Pigeonly CEO Fred

USA Today

This Veteran's Experience In Prison Helped Turn Him Into A CEO

Attorney General Eric Holder's determination to scale back the war on drugs has by now been well circulated in the media, and one veteran's story is shedding light on the value of such legislative efforts.

Huffington Post

US Air Force Vet Goes From Inmate to Entrepreneur

"My uncle retired from the Air Force and he was always in my ear talking to me about it. He was the most successful person in our family and someone I looked up to and when I saw his success, for me, it was a no brainer to join," he said.

ABC News

NewME & The Changing Face of Entrepreneurship

One of the first Google for Entrepreneurs partners, NewME Accelerator is a 12-week program for underrepresented tech founders. NewME founder Angela Benton and NewMe Accelerator graduates Khisaun Ferguson and Frederick Hutson share their experiences as min


CEO of Pigeonly

It seems fitting that during both the Digital Information Age and Black History Month, we'd have the pleasure to talk with entrepreneur, Frederick Hutson, CEO of Pigeonly.

Healthy Black Men

From inmate to entrepreneur

The creator of one tech company came up with his business plan while serving time in prison. Frederick Hutson wanted to help inmates communicate easily with friends and family, so he created Pigeonly.

HLN on Air

Released From Prison, and Starting a Company

Like most entrepreneurs, Frederick Hutson cannot resist trying to solve a thorny problem. His company, Pigeonly, based in Las Vegas, taps an underserved and “captive” market by offering prison inmates an easy and efficient way to receive photos from loved

New York Times

Tech Startup of the Week: Pigeonly, Data Company Takes Flight with $1 Million Seed Investment

NewME alum and Pigeonly CEO provides platform that connects prison population and outside world.

Black Enterprise

Frederick Hutson Builds a Business around Solving Problems

Frederick Hutson exudes entrepreneurism. Built into his DNA is a composite of molecules with drive, problem solving, and savvy business skills.

Black Men's Dossier

Let's Talk Tech: Marketing to a Captive Audience

While it's proven that Blacks are prone to buy gadgets and use social media and text messaging more than other races. Getting a business off the ground in the digital world may seem out of reach for many African Americans who don't have a high-tech educat

Jet Mag

Entrepreneurs Solve Problems They Have Experienced

So we're thrilled to announce as the latest addition to our portfolio of Kapor Capital investments. provides a platform that allows for targeting and converting of consumers that exist beyond the reach of traditional marketing.

Kapor Center

Idea man's latest inspiration: prison

Frederick Hutson has always been an entrepreneur. He fixed fans and fridges as a kid in Brooklyn. He launched a window-tinting business right out of Brandon High School. He started and sold a cellphone store.

Tampa Bay Times