Jane Chen’s personal journey to help others has taken her from doing social work in China to founding Embrace, a company that sells premature infant incubators. As an MBA student, Chen enrolled in professor Jim Patell’s Entrepreneurial Design for Extreme Affordability course, which teaches students how to look for practical solutions to the problems of the global poor. Her team’s research led to the discovery that around the world 4 million low-birth weight babies die within the first 28 days of life because they they don’t have enough fat to regulate their body temperature. The team set out to design an infant incubator costing less than 1% of traditional incubators, which would operate without electricity and would be portable and easy enough for a mother, a midwife, or a basically trained health care worker to use.
“The mission of Embrace is to give all infants a chance at a healthy life. Our vision is to empower the disadvantaged, to improve their lives,” says Chen. The Embrace infant warmer was launched in India in June 2011 and Chen’s team is working to scale Embrace over the next year throughout India and the world to bring this breakthrough in neonatal care to as many babies as possible.
Along her journey Chen has learned that life is about passion: “Find out what moves you, what excites you, and take the risk,” she advises students. And don’t be afraid to trust your intuition because as an entrepreneur, “You’ll never have perfect information, so at some point you just have to trust that voice in your head, in your gut, and go with it.”