It’s every parent’s nightmare. In 2002, Felicia Jackson and her husband were out for a drive with their three children when their 2 year old started choking.
As he struggled to breathe, they pulled over, and Jackson remembers her husband promptly handed their son to her. She worked in a hospital. She knew CPR. She would know what to do.
Instead, she froze, and it was her husband, an Army veteran, who dislodged the candy their youngest child was choking on.
“From that day, I was really upset,” Jackson recalled. “Really upset with myself that I didn’t react the way I thought I should have.”
As her children grew up, the experience stayed with her. She didn’t want another parent to feel paralyzed during a life-or-death situation. So Jackson invented — and patented — a tool to help people facing similar crises.
“CPRWrap is a non-technical all-in-one CPR template that protects, guides and empowers any non-medical responder to perform life-saving CPR,” Jackson said.
The product — and her story — resonated at Remote Revolution 2021, AMSE Alliance’s inaugural summit for military spouses. At the February event, Jackson won first prize in the pitch competition, earning $1,500, plus $35,000 worth of services to grow her business.
Moni Jefferson, vice president of the AMSE Alliance, which supports military spouse entrepreneurs with grants to “start, scale and sustain their businesses,” said Jackson’s patented invention and her inspiring story made her stand out.
“I feel like anything we can do to help move her initiative forward will help save a life as well,” Jefferson said.
Entrepreneurship, Jefferson said, is the “ideal career choice” for military spouses. For Jackson, who said her husband’s service taught her lessons about resilience, that rings true.
“You have to acclimate to different changes in location, meeting different people,” she said. “You have to do a lot with little sometimes. Sometimes it can be lonely, and that’s the same that some entrepreneurs have, especially if you are a solo entrepreneur.”
Saving lives with CPRWrap is Jackson’s top focus these days. After 20 years in the healthcare field, she is now a full-time CEO, based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Her business journey began a decade ago as she explored FDA requirements, came up with a design, and found a manufacturing company to execute it. By 2017, she had her first prototype.
“I wanted something in its simplest form, something so simple a child could use it,” she said.
The wrap is a translucent overlay with a mouthpiece for breathing and simple, highly visual CPR instructions from the American Heart Association. Small enough to be kept in a first aid kit, the CPRWrap comes in versions for adults, children and infants — and Jackson plans to unveil a canine version later this year.
Her clients include police forces, hospitals, and schools, and her product is available through her website and on Walmart’s e-commerce platform.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, CPRWrap was on a roll. In 2019, her patent was issued and she was accepted into the highly competitive Austin Techstars accelerator. She moved to Texas for three months, overcoming her imposter syndrome in the process.
“I was so scared to call myself a CEO,” she said. “I didn’t think I was worthy. When I was done with Techstars, I knew I was more than worthy.”
Like many small businesses, CPRWrap was dealt a blow by the pandemic. Jackson likened it to starting over. But then something unexpected happened. After George Floyd’s death kindled a national conversation about race and racial justice, Jackson started to see business flow in from people wanting to support her minority-owned company.
She began 2021 by winning a Tennessee Titans pitch competition that made CPRWrap a sponsor of the NFL team. By mid-year, she hopes to close a $1 million seed round.
And as for that little boy whose frightening experience propelled his mother on a years-long invention and business journey? At 20 years old, he’s no longer so little.
“He’s proud of his mom,” Jackson said. “He tells me, and he gives me a hug.”