Thirteen years ago, Felicia Jackson was taking a drive with her son when he suddenly began choking. “He was becoming unconscious,” Jackson recalls, “and I’m a medical professional so I know CPR. But I could not remember how to do CPR on him.” Jackson was frozen at the sight of her baby boy in life-threatening danger. “He’s fifteen now. My husband stepped in and saved the day, thank God.”
The incident could have been much worse, Jackson admits, but it made her think. “I know that if it’s happening to me, it’s happening to people all around the world,” she says, “According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of Americans feel helpless. They don’t react. They either don’t do it right, or they don’t do anything at all.” That’s what gave Jackson the idea for the CPR LifeWrap.
The CPR LifeWrap is a disposable device that can be placed on a victim’s mouth and chest to assist in the performance of CPR. The product features CPR instructions, embossed hand placements and a mouthpiece that prevents the exchange of fluids.
Jackson, who is a physical therapy assistant at Chattanooga, Tennessee’s Memorial Hospital, has been working diligently to turn CPR LifeWrap into a reality. She recently participated in LAUNCH Chattanooga’s Business Entrepreneurship Academy, a 10-week course that teaches new business owners marketing, business plan development and financial planning, among other things.
“It gives you the basics of what to do,” Jackson explains. “I could tell you about [physical] therapy all day long,” she continues, “but when it came to business, I didn’t know anything. They gave me the tools that I needed to actually get it started, to take my thought process and make it into reality.” Her experience was such a success that she has since been invited to participate in the healthcare track of Chattanooga’s GigTank 365 accelerator.
Once the company officially launches, Jackson plans to work with large distributors to move her product quickly. “To get it into various places, I want to work with distributing companies for first aid kits and make them available with AEDs,” she says. “I’m going to attack this any way I can, but I think getting in with the big distributors is the way to get it to the masses quicker.”
Jackson eventually wants CPR LifeWrap to be a household name. In five years, she says, “I see CPR LifeWrap… saving millions of lives. I see it everywhere—on book bags, in daycares, in school systems, hotel rooms, police cars. I want to see it in everybody’s hands.”
But getting a business to that point can be a challenge, especially when it comes to raising capital. Jackson says this is proving to be the most significant barrier in bringing the LifeWrap to market. “I’m a working mother, I’m a wife, I don’t have $100,000 in my bank account. So I need help. But this is a business full of men. And that’s been one of my biggest challenges, to let them know I do have brains, I know how to implement something and see it through.”
Jackson isn’t letting that stop her, however. “I’m trying to break many barriers. And I’m going to do it. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. It’s going to happen.”
Jackson is already working on upgrades for the CPR LifeWrap, as well as new ideas to expand her product line. But she offers this advice to anyone experiencing challenges in their own entrepreneurial journey: “Don’t give up… You’re going to have highs, and you’re going to have extreme lows. Just keep pushing through. Like I tell my patients, keep it moving. Something will happen, good or bad. If it’s bad, you learn from the bad, you pick yourself up and you brush off and you find a way around it… People are not going to trust in you. They’re not going to see what you believe in, but that’s ok. Because for those people, there are tens of thousands more people who will see you, who will believe in you, who will lift you up. So keep moving forward.”