Entrepreneurs solve problems.
Entrepreneurs don’t quit.
And while entrepreneurs come from all walks of life, not everyone has the same access to capital.
And this is where the Kapor Center for Social Impact works to make a difference. Whether it’s partnering with BlackGirlsCode or providing venture round funding to non-traditional entrepreneurs, we’re looking to close the gap.
So we’re thrilled to announce Pigeon.ly as the latest addition to our portfolio of Kapor Capital investments. Pigeon.ly provides a platform that allows for targeting and converting of consumers that exist beyond the reach of traditional marketing.
In keeping with the classic entrepreneur’s profile, Pigeon.ly founder Frederick Hutson had already launched a series of profitable ventures from appliance repair to a cell-phone store. Unlike the typical entrepreneur, his ingenuity landed him in prison, after his efforts to streamline distribution for a friend’s marijuana business caught the authorities’ attention. For many young men of color, a misstep like this could signify the end of the road. For Hutson, this plot twist turned into a moment for identifying and solving a major problem for incarcerated people and their loved ones.
Serving a Market Need
Pigeon.ly serves the incarcerated with two main offerings. In a system where inmates are routinely moved around without much notice to the outside world, Fotopigeon ensures delivery of hard copies of photos to inmates that family and friends upload to a server. Telepigeon offers a low cost solution to expensive long-distance call – cutting the typical $75 monthly phone bill by half.
While inmates serve their time (the majority for non-violent crimes, 60%+ for sentences of less than 5-10 years), communication with the outside is a huge priority. Staying connected can be the critical differentiator between rehabilitation and recidivism. Yet while their loved ones are paying their debt to society, many a family and friend strains their resources trying to keep in touch.
Hutson developed a working prototype for Fotopigeon while completing his sentence, and discovered the algorithmic groundwork for Telepigeon. The young founder is completely transparent about the “insider” origins of his company (note the company’s tagline). Undeterred by the odds of founding a new tech start-up, Hutson and his team (a female COO and developer, and two African-American business partners) secured the coveted first-round funding this last July.
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