Epileptic power supply is a reality that plague most countries in the developing world like Nigeria and although the issue is a much talked about phenomenon, it is rare to see someone who takes the lead in providing creative and sustainable solution.
That is until Jessica O. Matthews, a Harvard graduate, Nigerian, inventor, and CEO decided to take matters into her own hands by inventing a soccer ball and flip it into energy that can light a room.
Jessica is the founder of Uncharted Play, a company dedicated to producing clean power through kinetic energy, which is created whenever something moves.
The idea for Uncharted Play started in Nigeria, where a 17-year-old Jessica–who holds dual United States and Nigerian citizenship–was attending her aunt’s wedding. Sure enough, power failed during the wedding. Out came the diesel generators. Breathing the exhaust, Matthews felt ill. As she coughed and choked on the fumes, her cousins reassured her: Don’t worry. You’ll get used to it.
“The saddest thing to me,” said Jessica, “is that they had gotten used to [the idea of] dying.”
Later, while studying at Harvard, Jessica was asked to create something that combined art and science for a class project. She recalled her cousins’ resignation to a life spent breathing toxic fumes. Then she recalled something else: their energy and exuberance on the soccer field.
“I thought, why can’t you take a soccer ball that is already in motion and harness the energy that is being generated during play as an off-grid power source?” said Jessica.
That was how the SOCCKET, a ball that uses a micro-generator to produce three hours of light for every hour of play was born
In 2011, at 22 years old and a Harvard graduate, Jessica launched Uncharted Play. Having already developed SOCCET, her creative approach to off-grid power also spawned another signature product, PULSE, an emergency battery charging jump rope. Both products harness power generated by minutes of football or jump rope play to create hours of electricity – 30 minutes of play for three hours of light.
Today, over 500,000 SOCCKET and PULSE products are being used across developing countries, primarily in Latin America and Africa, and Jessica is the 13th black female founder to raise more than $1 million in outside investment. According to her though, Uncharted Play wasn’t always the plan. Speaking to Okay Africa she said:
“Believe it or not, I never aspired to be a businesswoman or run a major company. I always wanted to make really cool meaningful things, and generally 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.”
Jessica was invited by President Barack Obama to the White House to represent small companies for the signing of the America Invents Act in 2012, and currently serves as an Ambassador of Entrepreneurship for Nigeria. In 2016, she was selected to ring the NASDAQ opening ceremony bell, representing all Forbes 30 Under 30 alumna.
With Uncharted, Jessica has shown that the concept of play can be transformed into an energy creating, economy building business that would help tons of people, specifically children, flourish in their communities.
Jessica and her break through technology are being featured not only because her products are high quality and adored by many, but also because these products are helping to improve the world around us, one soccer ball and jump rope at a time.
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