Jessica O. Mathews is the Founder and CEO of Uncharted Play, founded in May of 2011 as a new kind of social enterprise grounded in play and the happiness of life that would show the world how play could be a tangible tool for inspiring social invention.
Mathews invented the SOCCKET, a soccer ball that harnesses and stores UP energy from play for later use as portable power source in resource-poor areas. It is the flagship product of Uncharted Play, Incorporated.
Matthews, a dual citizen of Nigeria and the United States, conceived the Idea of the SOCCKET for first came to when visiting Nigeria for a family wedding; the power went out during the party, her relatives switched on the noisy, noxious diesel generators that have become a way of life for nearly 60 million Nigerians. Recall that according statistics in 2015, only about 25 percent of Nigerians have access to regular electricity supply, while the nation records an average of 32 to 38-hour power outages monthly.
This inspired the Harvard trained Mathews, to innovate on possible off-grid power solutions. Alongside the SOCCKET ball invention, Uncharted Play is also credited with other innovations such as PULSE, an emergency battery charging jump rope. Both products use Uncharted Play’s proprietary M.O.R.E. (Motion-based, Off-Grid, Renewable Energy) technology to harness power generated by minutes of play to create hours of electricity.
She believes that people should not have to be restricted to being connected to walls to have access to power and has been making great strides in converting kinetic energy to usable electricity. Though her company is based in New York, she has revealed plans to spread her power solutions to other parts of the world including Africa.
Uncharted Play recently received a $7 million investment, which might just fast track her expansion plans in Africa. The $7 million investment in Uncharted Play makes Matthews the 13th black female founder who has raised more than $1 million in outside investment.
During an interview, when Mathews was asked about comparisons with her schoolmate – a certain Mark Zuckerburg, she said;
‘I just have to come clean; I don’t know if I can do this. Zuckerberg and I went to the same school, but we grew up in a totally different experiences, He is much more like them (Silicon Valley type). They won’t understand me. They won’t understand the experience.”
She further explained that personal experiences and struggles give birth to solutions. Zuckerberg could not have invented SOCCKET, because his struggle was he could not get a date while at Harvard. While, Matthews’ solution is basedon her own family’s struggle with energy issues back home in Nigeria.
Though some might argue that she is yet to truly create a lasting solution to most of the world’s power struggles, we cannot take away from the fact that at 28, Mathews has charted a course that would lead to many more lasting inventions in the power sector.
Here is another Woman, making a difference in a male dominated Sphere.