Felicia Jackson buckled her 2-year-old son safely and securely into the backseat of her car. She never imagined the fear that would strike just moments later.
When Felicia looked back to see the toddler choking and distressed in the backseat, she froze. A CPR-certified medical professional, she was shocked by how quickly panic set in and how paralyzed with fear she became seeing her own child in danger.
Thanks to her husband’s quick reaction, their son survived, and Felicia found herself with a new mission: to take some of the anxiety out of emergency situations and empower people to save lives.
After a dozen years of careful thought and planning, Felicia launched her invention, CPR LifeWrap. A disposable CPR template that helps guide any bystander through the life-saving CPR process, the device is intended to make performing CPR less intimidating.
“Emergency situations can cause panic and leave people unsure of how to help. I hope the CPR LifeWrap takes away that fear and in turn, empowers people to save lives,” says Felicia.
While her invention was spurred by a near-tragedy, the plan for how to execute it came to Felicia in the middle of the night. After dreaming about using the device to save someone’s life, she sketched out the product’s design and began working to make her dream a reality.
With over 20 years of medical experience in acute inpatient rehab, outpatient care, and home health settings, Felicia was well-equipped with the expertise and experience needed to design a simple, yet effective product that will help anyone, even a child as young as 9 years old, to save someone’s life.
However, like many entrepreneurs, Felicia lacked the access to capital she needed to bring her invention to life. Early on, she attempted to partner with investors who, even after she showed a sustainable, profitable business plan with pre-orders, refused to invest. She started out asking for $150,000 and eventually scaled back the amount to $25,000. After a great deal of persistence, Felicia found an angel investor. She parted with more equity than she wanted, but with no other options, she took what was presented to her.
“My advice to other women business owners in this situation would be to hold out for what is best for your business. Not all money is good money,” she says.
While Felicia struggled to find start-up capital, she says the challenge made her more aware, more determined, and more willing to sacrifice to build her business. She acknowledges the roadblocks that exist for all entrepreneurs getting a business up and running, but says she’s experienced firsthand the challenges that are unique to female entrepreneurship.
“I consider being a woman business owner a curse and a blessing,” says Felicia. “On one hand you’re asked to be on boards and the first to be considered if you are vying for contacts, but on the other hand it is usually because they have to meet a quota.”
Her advice to fellow female entrepreneurs? “Expect fear, loneliness, stress, and people that want to see you win and lose; expect not to know what direction to turn and expect advice from people you ask and people you didn’t ask. All of this is OK. No one can tell you about the journey—you have to live it. You have to have passion, purpose, and determination to succeed in whatever you set out to accomplish.”
October is National Women’s Small Business Month and a great opportunity to understand the positive impact that women make in the business world. Check back as we highlight the unique perspectives and experiences of women in small business throughout the month; you can read even more inspiring stories and insights from Lendio’s CEO and founder Brock Blake on Forbes.com.