This year saw Black men making moves across the board from technology to the vodka industry. We look back at some of the businessmen who followed their passions and made changes as a result. These are a few of the men who made an impression in 2017.
Freddie Figgers, at age of 27, is taking on the cell phone industry with his Figgers F1 cell phone. This cell phone is the first with automatic anti-texting and driving functionality and the ability to sign in with different user accounts. Not only has he created a phone, but the network service as well, Figgers Communication. After high school, Figgers worked creating software for companies and inventions of his own. One of his inventions was inspired by his father, who was living with Alzheimer’s Disease. The device was similar to a telephone but inserted into a shoe. It had Google maps to track the person with the device and when someone would call it, they could lean down and respond to the shoe. Figgers program was purchased for $2.2 million by a company and he was able to have his dream and start his telecommunications company. Since 2011, Figgers Communications has been providing cellular, mobile broadband, home phone and international calling services. Along with a network, Figgers has also created the Figgers F1 cell phone. It has gained attention for its anti-texting and driving software and its feature that allows multiple user accounts. In the future, the company is planning to release the Figgers F2 which will be waterproof, shatterproof and more. Figgers Communication is currently the only carrier in the country that manufactures its own phone and provides its own service. For more information about Figgers Communication, visit www.figgers.com.
Nick Gouche, president of the Young Realtist Division (YRD), launched his realty chapter in Los Angeles in September 2017. YRD started off as a host committee for the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. NAREB started back in 1947, by African American Real Estate professionals who could not join National Association of Realtors to become realtors at that time, because of the color of their skin. YRD is now re-launching chapters across the Nation, creating an inclusive movement of Black real estate professionals who are new to the industry.
Technology veteran, Pat Lang, with co-founder Jennifer De Dios and team brought the DanceLove app to a phone near you in 2017. The fitness app is the first of its kind allowing for dance instructors to connect with their students, gyms, and studio owners worldwide. Instructors will be able to post their weekly schedule and the format and technique they teach in. While students will have access to weekly calendar events and reviews of the dance instructors, the app personalizes each student’s dance experience by remembering the genre of music and format the participant prefers. The app then suggest classes that are available near the individual’s location. The DanceLove app launched in Summer of 2017. The app is available to download for iOS at launch followed by Android in the app store. Stay up-to-date with the dance fitness community by visiting www.danceloveapp.com. Be sure to follow DanceLove app on Instagram and Facebook @danceloveapp.
Paul Hiles has decided that the 50+ generation deserves a spot where they can enjoy good company, music, and food too. Paul’s Place celebrated its grand opening on July 15 to standing room only. The new hotspot in town features music Hiles says his generation can appreciate and enjoy. Hiles is an entrepreneur, having owned a few restaurants which featured Cajun and southern cuisines. In the 1980s, he owned a bar and restaurant on 10th Ave. and Washington called Shilo’s Cajun Soul Food Restaurant, which he named after his first daughter. Recently Hiles’ recognized that there was a particular spot missing in the community. Hiles has also established a 501c3 called The Urban Hip Tech Foundation, which he hopes to turn the urban American community from a tech desert into a tech oasis. The Urban Hip Tech Foundation is dedicated to uplifting urban youth by ensuring that they achieve a more promising future through learning technology and entrepreneurial skills. Paul’s Place is located at 1735 W. Manchester Blvd. in Los Angeles, CA 90047. For more information, please call (323) 707-8198. For more information on The Urban Hip Tech Foundation, please visit www.urbanhiptech.org.
Paul Ryan Elliott, 31, took on his dream and created his own Vodka distillery and brand. As the CEO and Founder of loft & bear Vodka, he has won 11 awards and now has his vodka in Whole Foods, Target and Vons. One of Elliott’s first thoughts was that there weren’t many people who look like him in the distillery business. He has also teamed up with PATH (People Assisting The Homeless), a charity that helps homeless people, not only find shelter, but move in with furniture and jobs. Through his Distill. Drink. Donate. initiative, five percent of all profits of loft & bear go to helping the homeless, veterans and displaced families. loft & bear can be found in your local Target, Whole Foods and Vons. For more information, visit www.loftandbear.com.