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Ex Offender Beats the Odds and Starts His Own Company

Ex offender beats the odds and starts his own company and proves others wrong.

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 ones and to make phone calls to them inexpensively. “Isolation is the worst thing for an inmate,” Mr. Hutson said. “It makes it hard for him to rebuild his life when he gets out.”

Hoping to reduce recidivism, he came up with an idea for an online platform, called Fotopigeon, that lets friends and relatives upload photos, which are then sent through the postal service directly to the incarcerated for a flat fee of 50 cents a print. “Companies like Shutterfly and Snapfish — their packaging won’t get accepted by prisons,” Mr. Hutson said, “because they don’t like anything that doesn’t come in a plain white envelope.”

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