Jessica O. Matthews: Breaking the Tech Ceiling
By Sheree Crute
Less than 1 percent of the billions in venture capital poured into tech start-ups goes to black women, so that tells you just how fierce entrepreneur Jessica O. Matthews had to be to raise $7 million to fund her new company, Uncharted Play.
But that’s just one aspect of what makes Matthews so impressive. Rather than raise money just to make money or contribute to the social media vacuum, Matthews’ company has garnered 15 patents for energy-generating play products that are used to produce opportunities for young people to be physically active and learn about the global importance of clean, renewable energy.
Combining Uncharted Play’s products with her company’s “Think Out of Bounds Curriculum,” young people in communities around the world, including Harlem, are inspired and encouraged to create imaginative tech projects that will solve problems in their neighborhood.
Uncharted Play’s first product—SOCCKET—is a soccer ball that doubles as a power generator. The ball produces rotational energy every time it’s rolled, creating enough light for another three hours of play. Matthews invented SOCCKET as a college student.
Matthews hit her $7 million goal with a round of funding led by NIC Fund with participation from Kapor Capital, Magic Johnson Enterprises, BBG Ventures and Lingo Ventures.