Uncharted Play - MORE - Jessica O. Matthews
Company: Uncharted Play, New York, NY
Company Description: Founded in 2011, Uncharted Play is an energy technology company that believes in utilizing technology to power and empower. With the expansion of MORE, Uncharted Play is reaffirming its commitment to creating products and systems that encourage playful human behavior to create a world where everyone can play in the light—powering a world in motion.
Nomination Category: Individual Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Female Entrepreneur of the Year – Business Services –11 to 2,500 Employees
Nomination Title: Jessica O. Matthews, Founder & CEO
Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated entrepreneur since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):
Jessica O. Matthews is the Founder/CEO of Uncharted Play (UP), with the mission to impact how people worldwide generate energy, consume it, and engage with it in their daily lives. UP makes energy-generating products that produce clean power through kinetic energy.
The idea for UP started in Nigeria, where Matthews attended a wedding polluted by generator exhaust because of the country’s unreliable electrical grid. She recalls her cousins' resignation to a life breathing toxic fumes.
Later, while an undergrad at Harvard, Matthews had to create something combining art and science. She recalled her cousins’ love of soccer and 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?" Matthews' solution was the Soccket, a ball that uses a micro-generator to produce three hours of light for every hour of play.
In 2011 she launched Uncharted Play in NYC. She sold the product to schools, governments and businesses.
MORE (MOTION-BASED, OFF-GRID, RENEWABLE ENERGY) is UP’s proprietary technology for micro-generator systems design to harness kinetic energy. The low-cost, custom micro-generators can be fully integrated into anything that moves, transforming products into sources of off-grid power.
In 2014, with Toyota’s help, UP launched the ‘Think Out of Bounds’ (TOOB) curriculum, aimed at encouraging social invention across the globe. The SOCCKET serves as a learning tool in the curriculum. The roll out started in NYC, before heading to Brazil.
Said Matthews, “With the SOCCKET and the TOOB curriculum, we are able to provide children in New York and Brazil with an off-grid energy option, the tools for creating real inventions in their own communities, and most importantly, an opportunity to do all of this while playing.”
Her second product, The PULSE, is an energy-generating jump rope. In 2016, The UP Education Initiative incorporated both products as tools. UP staff traveled to Africa to introduce the curriculum.
Matthews entered the Harvard MBA program while launching a manufacturing facility. She learned enough about manufacturing to know she didn't want to be a manufacturer. She switched to contract manufacturing and worked to make her technology scalable by shrinking it 94.5% in less than four years with limited funding.
After earning her MBA , Matthews pivoted beyond play, to an energy company, and is rebranding her company with MORE , with the goal to "democratizing energy access worldwide”. UP envisions a psychological shift in the way society consumes energy - from" hoard and save" to "continuous and on-demand”.
As a first mover in kinetic energy harnessing technology, UP is licensing the technology and partnering with OEMs to integrate MORE technology into everyday product, like strollers, shopping carts and suitcases, transforming them into sources of off-grid power. UP works with partners to develop the generator, integrate into the supply chain, and supply the harnessing unit. MORE systems are seamlessly integrated, affordable, efficient, convenient and scalable.
Profitable for the last three years, with gross profit margins doubling YOY, Matthews recently raised a $7m Series A round of capital -- placing UP "among the top three most heavily funded startups run by an African American woman.
Provide a brief biography of the nominated entrepreneur (up to 125 words):
At the age of 19, Jessica invented the SOCCKET ball, an energy generating soccer ball that provides off-grid power for the developing world. At the age of 22, she founded Uncharted Play, a renewable energy company specializing in motion-based, miniaturized power systems.
Jessica was invited by President Obama to the White House to represent small companies for the signing of the America Invents Act in 2012. She serves as an Ambassador of Entrepreneurship for Nigeria.
Jessica’s research and career centers around the intersection of disruptive technology, human behavior, and the psychology of self-actualization. A dual citizen of Nigeria & the U.S., Jessica has a degree in Psychology and Economics from Harvard University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.