Get All Access for $5/mo

How Breast Cancer Sparked a Business Idea Young trep Koray Lucas launched Radiant Wraps after his mother refused to wear a drab hospital gown during treatment.

By Kara Ohngren Prior

When his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer a couple years ago, Koray Lucas saw first-hand how difficult the rigorous treatment can be. He would accompany his mom to the hospital for radiation therapy five days a week, for an hour at a time, for six to eight weeks.

Lucas' mother hated the standard (read: frumpy and dull) issued hospital gown that she had to wear during treatment, she felt like her personality was taken away and was uncomfortable, cold and embarrassed. So, she designed her own practical and stylish alternative and when she showed Lucas her creation, he knew she was onto something.

After graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in business, the now 23-year-old Lucas officially launched Radiant Wrap in November of 2011. The $64 wraps are currently available at eight hospitals and cancer centers throughout California and the bootstrapped startup is on track to bring in more than $100,000 in revenue this year.

"We want to give women with breast cancer an extra degree of comfort, beauty and wellness during a very trying time," says the San Jose, Calif.-based young entrepreneur. "I saw how the garment my mom created benefited her as a breast cancer patient. I knew that if I could turn this idea into a business, I could provide that same benefit to women with breast cancer everywhere."

We think what Lucas is doing is pretty inspiring, so for the month of January, Radiant Wraps is officially YE's Startup of the Month. With that comes bragging rights for life, along with a copy of Entrepreneur Press' latest tome: Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn for Business and a digital subscription to Entrepreneur magazine.

We chatted with Lucas about bringing a product to market, startup challenges and launching a business out of personal heartache.

Q: How are Radiant Wraps different from colorful hospital gowns?
A: For one, functionality. The wrap-around design completely covers you, yet allows for easy access to the back and chest areas during treatment. They're also stylish and comfortable, made of soft and flowing fabrics in a variety of vibrant colors and patterns, complete with a trendy V-neck and sash tie at the waist. Women feel unique when they wear their Radiant Wrap -- not like just another patient. It's their own and comes with a matching carrying bag.

Q: How did you develop a prototype?
A: We consulted tons of doctors and radiation technicians about regulations, gown requirements, design possibilities and fabric types. After several tests, we came up with a functional prototype that my mom wore to her treatment.

Q: How did you find a manufacturer?
A: While we considered going overseas, we ended up finding a great one here in the U.S. One of my college professors introduced me to a past graduate who launched a designer fashion and manufacturing business in San Francisco. This facility was a great small-run manufacturer and I used them for the first few production rounds.

Since the owner of the facility graduated from the same class I did, she was also very helpful in explaining manufacturing jargon and procedures. This was very helpful since I had to overcome many challenges in finding a trustworthy manufacturer including pricing, material issues, completion timelines, quality control and logistics, just to name a few. We now use a manufacturer in Oakland, Calif., that does larger production runs.

Q: What's been your biggest challenge?
A: The bureaucracy associated with working with cancer centers. For a purchase to be approved and a pilot program launched, there's a very lengthy process that the cancer centers must go through. There are several decision makers who must first approve a purchase, then approval is needed from the purchasing departments, then approval is generally needed from the medical foundations as well. The process of coordinating with cancer centers takes months and it has been really difficult balancing patience and persistence while trying to finalize a sale.

Q: Advice for young entrepreneurs?
A: You can do it. Fulfill a need, and create value. Don't let the idea of starting a business overwhelm you. You have the ability to make a job, rather than take one.

Kara Ohngren is a freelance writer and part-time editor at YoungEntrepreneur. Her work has appeared in publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, The New York Times, MSNBC, The Huffington Post and Business Insider.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Business News

How to Be a Billionaire By 25, According to a College Dropout Turned CEO Worth $1.6 Billion

Austin Russell became the world's youngest self-made billionaire in 2020 at age 25.


Taylor Swift Has a Lucky Number. And She's Not the Only High Performer Who Leans Into Superstitions to Boost Confidence.

Even megastars like Swift need a little extra something to get them in the right mindset when it is game time.


SEO Trends You Need to Be Aware of Right Now, According to a Seasoned Pro

Navigate the future of search engine optimization to elevate your online presence and drive meaningful engagement.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.