Jessica O. Matthews on Owning Who You Are | Impact Theory
Jessica O. Matthews
- Founded award-winning power and data infrastructure tech company at just 22 years old
- Listed on over 10 patents and patents pending, including her first invention of the SOCCKET, an energy generating soccer ball
- Recognized as Fortune’s Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs, 30 Under 30 list for Forbes and Inc., and Scientist of the Year by Harvard University
- Inspires audiences to use innovation and tech disruption to power the needs of people, businesses, and communities worldwide
Play Video View Fees
“If ever there was an innovator, she’s it.” – Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States
Jessica O. Matthews is an award-winning entrepreneur, inventor, and social scientist with more than 10 years of demonstrated thought leadership in the future of smart cities, climate resiliency, and improving equitable access to infrastructure resources. She is the founder and CEO of Uncharted, a sustainable infrastructure company that helps cities reduce the cost of developing smart infrastructure worldwide. Through Uncharted, she has created a central hub that connects cities to innovative, cost-effective solutions essential to transforming their environments to be more intelligent and inclusive, while leveraging data to achieve the highest level of infrastructural operation and optimization. Called “the Elon Musk of kinetic energy” by former U.S. chief technology officer Megan Smith, her groundbreaking research and career center around the intersection of disruptive technology, renewable energy, human behavior, and the psychology of self-actualization.
Represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau, Jessica takes groups along her entrepreneurial journey as she reveals the evolution of an idea to generate energy from a soccer ball all the way through to the rise of a revolutionary technology company that is reshaping our cities for sustainable futures. Her candid, relatable approach inspires audiences to adapt, innovate, and create solutions to address the needs of people, businesses, and communities worldwide. Jessica’s motto, “Succeed, not despite of who you are, but because of who you are, unapologetically,” encourages individuals and organizations to embrace differences and recognize that personal struggle and challenges can give birth to solutions, if you let them.
Jessica’s career started at the age of 19 with her invention of the SOCCKET, an energy-generating soccer ball. At the age of 22, Jessica founded Uncharted as a power solutions company before expanding to smart city infrastructure development that helps the citizens of small cities trust that they do not need to "leave where they are from to get where they are going.”
Jessica’s success in entrepreneurship led to a White House invitation from President Barack Obama to represent small companies for the signing of the America Invents Act in 2012. In 2016, she raised what was at the time the largest Series A round ever raised by a black female founder in history, and was selected to ring the NASDAQ opening ceremony bell, representing all Forbes 30 Under 30 alumni. In 2021, Jessica was officially appointed by Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm to the Electricity Advisory Committee. As a member of the Smart Grid subcommittee, she plays a key role in advising the Department of Energy on the ways we can modernize our nation’s electric delivery system, specifically focusing on accelerating the deployment of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the U.S.
A dual citizen of Nigeria and the United States, Jessica has a degree in psychology and economics from Harvard University, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and is listed on over 12 patents and patents pending. Her list of accolades includes Fortune’s Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs, Forbes 30 Under 30, Inc. Magazine 30 Under 30 and Female Founders 100, Harvard University Scientist of the Year, One Young World Entrepreneur of the Year, the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award, and Black Women Tech Talk’s Tech Trailblazer Award. She has appeared on the cover of Forbes and Forbes Africa, as well as featured in Marie Claire, Wired, Inc., TechCrunch, The New York Times, and Fast Company, among others.
Innovating During Times of Uncertainty: Adapting Your Business for the New Normal. The business world has transformed tremendously in recent times. Execs are forced to rethink how they operate, what they offer employees, and their greater long-term impact on society. But what does the current business landscape look like for smaller companies? Uncharted Power is a venture-backed small business in the niche power infrastructure space – if you subscribe to the theory of intersectionality, the nature of their business stacks all odds against them. But CEO and founder Jessica O. Matthews is using this time to breed new vision for her company.
If you’re exploring innovation and adaptation for your business, Jessica will share how Uncharted Power has pivoted in the new business world by doubling down on their mission of redefining power access and building smarter, safer cities. She will discuss:
- The biggest challenges she has faced as a startup leader and how she’s turning adversity into vision
- The need for small companies to see beyond their own path and understand how they interconnect with other businesses / the world
- What the recent events have taught us about global infrastructure and how we can make updates to improve public health / lives
- And more.
Innovating During Times of Uncertainty: Turning Adversity Into Vision. Business and government leaders hold an important role in coming together to create solutions that enhance the lives and health of marginalized citizens, but it is particularly exciting when small businesses within these communities led by members of the marginalized group feel empowered to take action.
One company working toward closing the gap is Uncharted Power, a data and power infrastructure startup creating tech to support these very communities. Jessica O. Matthews, a black female founder and CEO, chose to build her company in Harlem to encourage diverse decision-making and uplift the surrounding community. In this talk, Jessica will discuss:
- Challenges and gaps in access to info, education, and opportunity that she sees first-hand being immersed in this epicenter of diversity – and what her company is doing to address the problem in real-time.
- Heightened challenges in black and brown communities – such as limitations on working remotely, more common pre-existing health conditions, and lower-quality healthcare
- How Uncharted Power is turning adversity into vision – doubling down their goal of expanding tech to support underserved communities
- And more.
The Uncharted Path. Join Jessica as she shares how an energy-generating soccer ball launched a global power and data infrastructure company, the trends she believes will drive the industry in the next decade, and the role Uncharted Power's disruptive innovations will play in this new ecosystem.
Going Against Your Plan to Unlock Your Destiny. If entrepreneurial innovator and Uncharted CEO Jessica O. Matthews had followed through with the plans others had for her — and that she had for herself — she may never have set out on the path that has led to her becoming one of the leaders transforming cities across the world to be smarter and more equitable for all. Growing up, there were few examples for her to follow as a diverse woman making an impact in tech. Still her aptitude and ingenuity in tech and innovation were undeniable, and it led Jessica to discover the path that was always meant for her.
In this talk, Jessica reflects on her own story — beginning as a game-changing inventor in the renewable energy space to becoming one of the leaders powering the smart city revolution — to lead an eye-opening conversation on how each person can unlock their own destiny. As she outlines valuable strategies and action steps anyone can use to align their plans to purpose in pursuit of their destiny, she empowers a mindset shift that helps people get out of their own way on the journey to achieving everything they are capable of, and more.
Power, Redefined: Leadership Acumen From the New Tech Frontier. Successful tech companies with a $7 million Series A Round typically start in Silicon Valley, not Harlem. But why is this the overriding norm? In this talk, Jessica reveals the obstacles she faced in wanting to move her company to Harlem, and discusses why it's important to question the status quo, go against the grain, and create something that works for you—no matter your location, background, or circumstances. Jessica will share how applying her leadership skills in unconventional ways has led to changing the renewable energy game. Her motto "succeed not despite of who you are, but because of who you are unapologetically" encourages individuals and organizations to embrace differences and recognize that personal struggle and challenges can give birth to solutions, if you let them. By leading with the simple understanding of focusing on what you can control, she inspires audiences to start with daily achievable goals and to lead by example.
Equitable Innovation: The Uncharted Power Effect. Jessica O. Matthews is no stranger to inequality—both gender and race—when competing in the behemoth industry sectors of renewable energy and technology. But her struggle is not unique. With technology giants such as Facebook, Google and Twitter all with less than a 20% female employee composition, the lack of diversity that is so unreflective of the global population drastically affects the quality, relevance and diversity of innovative ideas that companies can produce. Uncharted Power tackles the intersection between innovation and empowerment through their impact program, UPlift 1 million, where they use their curriculum "Think Out of Bounds" to teach STEM, design thinking, and innovation to underrepresented communities. In this talk, Jessica shares her own struggles to succeed in a traditional industry and empowers audiences to discover ways to combat the intrinsic biases against people who do not adhere to the norm, regardless of industry, as a means to cultivate innovation and creativity from within. A firm believer that innovation is shaped by struggle, Jessica uses her story to show people that look like her what's possible—inspiring audiences to seek out ways to contribute to both positive and sustainable economic development and personal growth.
She was amazing!! Such a force and our whole team found her both inspirational and super smart.
Jessica was fantastic, she really connected on so many levels with attendees by talking not only about innovation and business but about humanity and doing good and just life decisions creating new paths. We received great feedback. Her conversational tone was great.
On behalf of Brand 50 and World 50 at-large, I'd like to extend a sincere thank you for your time with us yesterday.
Throughout their takeaways, members continue to reference how important your insight was and how many new strategies and perspectives they have in their "toolbox" as a product of time spent with you.
Largely, they've shared with us that their conversation with you allowed them to consider possibility again. Not possibility as an idea, but possibility enacted in measurable and authentic ways. In a day where hope may not be as plenteous as it once was, Jessica, we could not ask for more.
It was a true pleasure. Thank you for your level of preparedness, focus and true candor with our members. It was noticed. It is appreciated.
We appreciate her sharing her insights into new ways of how we can innovate, drive impact with intention, and build a more inclusive future through PLAY. Her messages had purpose and hit on the all the points on why we created this series
She was like Bill Nye + Beyonce....that is exactly who I want to be too. Such an amazing & impactful storyteller! So inspiring and awesome way to start my morning. I am walking away with so much today.
Click one of these resources below for another way to find more speaker ideas for your audience.
Topics & Types
Olympic Champion Swimmer; 10x Olympic Medalist, 19x World Champion, 14x World Record Breaker