Startup Week honors small businesses, nonprofits

CPR Wrap wins Startup of the Year honor

Staff photo by Doug Strickland / Felicia Jackson with the CPR Lifewrap pitches her company at the Will This Float? event held at the Revelry Room on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Ten finalists pitched business plans in the contest, and the selected winners were the company undaground in the best overall category, Southside Strings in best music & entertainment, and the CPR Lifewrap in best general business.

A Chattanooga entrepreneur who turned a life-threatening incident into a promising medical device now being sold around the world was honored Thursday night as the Startup of the Year business in Chattanooga.

Felicia Jackson, a former physical therapy assistant at CHI Memorial Hospital, was recognized during Chattanooga's Startup Week for the CPR device she invented to help others avoid what she experienced with her own 2-year-old son.

"My son almost died, and that's why I created CPR Wrap," Jackson said in describing the motivation of the device and business she has built over the past five years.

Jackson, who recalls an incident in the summer of 2002 when her fear prevented her from remembering how to revive her baby who was choking in the back seat of her car, has developed a device to help make performing CPR simple. Jackson said her husband was able to revive their child, but the incident haunted Jackson until she was able to develop her plastic overlay with instructions to aid anyone caught in a similar situation. The CRP Life Wrap includes a mouth barrier with a one-way valve and embossed hand placements and proper CPR instructions.

CPR is the medical term for the emergency lifesaving procedure known as Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, but Jackson also suggests the acronym could stand for Clarity ("know what you are doing"), Passion ("loving whatever it is you are doing") and Reason ("having a purpose that drives your action.") ,

Jackson said each of those traits has been developed through the aid of most of Chattanooga's startup business assistance programs she has used in recent years, including Launch, SCORE, CO.LAB and, most recently, the INCubator, where her business is now housed and has begun selling the CPR Wrap.

Those groups recognized Jackson Thursday night with the award for "the most forward-facing, problem-solving, original and inspiring young business in the Chattanooga area."

Chris Cummings, the founder and CEO of Pass It Down who won the Startup of the Year award last year, said Jackson had been nominated numerous times for the Startup and other similar awards "because the entire community recognizes her work" and drive to succeed.

During an awards celebration Thursday night in the Waterhouse Pavillion, a half dozen other winners were recognized during the Startup Week event.

* Rachel McCrickard, a licensed therapist who started Motivo two years ago to help provide online supervision for therapist certification, was recognized as CO.LAB's High Growth Company of the Year.

* Jacobo Salazar Jr., owner of Kickstand Bicycles in St. Elmo, won Launch CHA's Micr0-Business of the Year award for the bike repair, retail and recycling business.

* Aaron Hoffman, founder of the Hoff & Pepper hot sauce brand, won the INCubator's Incubated Biz of the Year award.

* Gregg Higgins, owner and designer of beConnected Branding and Design, was recognized as the Society of Work's Co-worker of the Year.

* Kaysie Strickland, who started Homes & Havens two years ago to help women overcome obstacles like abuse, addiction, homelessness, sex trafficking, and incarceration, won the Causeway's Changemaker of the Year award.

* Alison Reedy, chief operations officer at CO.LAB and a leader in aiding startup businesses, won the newly created Charlie Brock award. The honor is named for the former CO.LAB director who headed TN Launch under Gov. Bill Haslam for the past six years.