By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
While Felicia Jackson describes herself as a “closet inventor,” it was two family emergencies – one that ended on a positive note, but one that did not – that led her to create something called The CPR LifeWrap.
The Chattanooga native and mother of three has spent more than 20 years in the medical field in acute inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient care, and home health settings. Jackson holds an A.A.S. Degree from Chattanooga State Technical Community College and currently works as a Physical Therapy Assistant at Memorial Hospital.
Even with her experience and training including certification in CPR, she says she was not prepared for the first of those two emergencies when her then two-year old son was choking in the back seat of the family car.
“He was blue, and I had forgotten all I had learned,” Jackson says of experience 14 years ago. Fortunately, her husband swung into action and removed the piece of food that was the problem.
Fast forward to 2008, and the outcome was far different. Jackson’s niece attempted suicide, only to be successfully revived by paramedics. Unfortunately, the relative died the next day.
Two years later, Jackson told us she recalls a dream in which she vividly saw what became The CPR LifeWrap.
“I got up out of bed and immediately sketched the idea,” she says. Simply stated, The CPR LifeWrap is a disposable, CPR assistive device with instructions that even include where to place your hands. For people who are not trained in CPR or even those like Jackson who are but forget the process in an emotionally-charged situation, it literally can mean the difference between life and death for someone.
The “closet inventor” says she waited a couple of years after sketching her idea before she decided to go forward. The initial catalyst was participation in Launch Chattanooga followed by capturing the “Best General Business Award” in last year’s “Will This Float?” competition, and participating in CO.LAB’s spring 2016 accelerator.
“In the accelerator, we were tasked with selling product,” Jackson explains. She sold 300 and knew her idea had legs.
Today, Jackson says that “everything is going so fast” that she quit her day job in October. “It’s the scariest thing I ever did.”
She has secured partnerships with two hospitals, one school system and negotiating with a second, and has received inquiries from the U.S. Department of Defense and World Health Organization.
“The school systems want to put The CPR LifeWrap in every classroom,” Jackson says, while the hospitals have several ways to use the device. One of the systems will include it in birthing classes.
The device retails for $25 for the adult and child versions and $20 for the infant size.
The fast scaling obviously has the resident of Hixson seeking funding for inventory, sales and marketing.
“My biggest challenge is that it is not all about technology,” Jackson acknowledges. “There is another end of the innovation spectrum.”
As she learns the business aspects of a start-up, she says that “I’m a fighter for things I believe in. I want to be in every home and every businesses.”
The analogy that she attaches to that vision is to be like a fire extinguisher that everyone should have close by for emergencies.