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Jessica Matthews: the Techpreneur Who Invented a Power-Generating Soccer Ball

Jessica Matthews

Source: Defining cultures

Nigerian-American techpreneur, Jessica Matthews was inspired on her visit to Nigeria for her aunt’s wedding. There was an electricity outage, and a diesel generator was used as an alternative. Though the power was restored, the smoke was hazardous to health. There, she conceived the idea of producing an environmentally friendly power generator.

Being a problem solver and having a background knowledge in energy came in handy for Matthews. In 2008, during her junior college, she invented Sockett, a soccer ball that doubles as a power generator. She did this with her classmate Julia Silverman, as an assignment in an engineering class.

Sockett retains kinetic energy as it is utilised. Also, a thirty-minute play produces sufficient energy to light a small LED light for three hours.

The launch of her startup – Soccket

Despite not wanting to be a businesswoman, the Harvard Business School graduate found herself in the heart of it. 

She said, “Believe it or not, I never aspired to be a businesswoman or run a major company. I always wanted to make cool, meaningful things and help people self-actualize and get more value out of whatever time they have left on this planet. As it turns out, to do that sustainably and at scale, you have to build a business.”

Thus, the Havard college graduate launched Uncharted Play in 2011 after quitting her full-time job at CrowdTap, a crowd-funding company.

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Raising funds for Uncharted play

Jessica Matthews used Kickstarter and convertible debt to fund her firm at the initial stage. In the same year, she exhibited her invention at the Clinton Global Initiative University and also to ex-president Barack Obama during his 2013 visit to Tanzania.

As the company grew, she redirected its attention to producing a larger variety of kinetic-energy-storing devices in collaboration with experienced manufacturers.

This included M.O.R.E, a Motion-based Off-Grid Renewable Energy, a technology that leverages Soccket’s energy storage mechanism.

This, in turn, led to the development of SOCCKET, an energy-generating soccer ball, and PULSE, an emergency battery-charging jump rope.

By leaping for 15 minutes, the jump robe creates and stores energy sufficient enough to power an LED for three hours. Both devices use the M.O.R.E to convert the power produced by minutes of play into hours of electricity.

Uncharted Play was renamed Uncharted Power in 2016. The company has been booming for three years in a row, with gross profit margins doubling yearly. In the same year, her company received $7 million in Series A funding, valuing it at $57 million.

Driving Expansion

Jessica Matthews has her sights set on the US market after dominating the African and Latin American markets with roughly 500,000 Socckets and Pulses in use as of 2017. 

This is to be accomplished by enlisting the help of parents and young people interested in renewable energy and global issues.

By leveraging its Think Out of Bounds educational program, the company educates over one million kids in innovation and STEM.

In 2016, she established the Harlem Tech Fund (HTF), a non-profit organisation to support 100 new entrepreneurs and provide technology training to 10,000 Harlem residents. She served as the chairman of the HTF.

Due to her immense work, She was honoured with the Outstanding Corporate Diversity Award at the Harlem Economic Development Day in 2016.

Her achievements earned her the White House’s invitation from President Barack Obama to represent small businesses during the signing of the America Invents Act in 2012.

By receiving the highest Series A round fund ever, Jessica Matthew set a new record. She was, therefore, selected to anchor the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ) opening ceremony bell on behalf of all Forbes 30 Under 30 alumni. 

In 2021, Jennifer M. Granholm, the Secretary of Energy, appointed her to the Electricity Advisory Committee to advise the Department of Energy.

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