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ESSENCE Network: Jessica O. Matthews, An Inventor Who Created the Career She Wanted

Instead of asking “why,” Jessica Matthews has spent her life asking “why not?” This summer she introduced school children to SOCCKET, a soccer ball she invented that harnesses kinetic energy from playing. See how she is changing the world with cheer.
Name: Jessica O. Matthews Age: 26 Title: Uncharted Play CEO and creator of SOCCKET soccer ball Location: New York, NY Hometown: Wappingers Falls, NY Twitter: @Jess_O_Matt LinkedIn: jessicaomatthews The gig: I am an inventor and I run a tech company that provides creations for the good of our society. I am best known for inventing the SOCCKET, a soccer ball that harnesses kinetic energy from playing. The energy can then be used for everyday purposes, which is especially handy in countries where electricity is scarce. For every 30 minutes of playing with the ball, up to 3 hours of LED wattage is generated. The journey:  I grew up wanting to be an inventor, but was pushed to other industries in high school that had more structure. When I first invented the SOCCKET for a class, I was reminded about how much I loved making things—creating what wasn’t into what is. Once I saw people’s lives change because of something I created, I was hooked. Her career highlight: Being named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” was a great accomplishment for me last year. Also, having a global brand like Toyota recognize the SOCCKET as an innovative invention that inspires social change was a major milestone. I was honored as a 2012 Toyota Mother of Invention and received a grant that gave me the much-needed capital to grow my business. Confessions of a Black woman in technology: In the tech industry, there’s already a bias that benefits men. A lot of firms expect to see men and it takes them a while to understand and believe what you’re saying. Add in that you’re a Black woman and no one knows where you’re coming from and each conversation is an uphill battle. I have to have an extra shield to go into battle to beat all these stereotypes at once. The benefit is that when I do well, people do take notice because I am so different from others in the game. Success 101: Stay humble and stay hungry. Her networking tip: The best method for me is to build meaningful relationships with a tight-knit group of colleagues. Someone, or even several people, in your close circle will always be more connected or more of a networker and always be there to look out for you and be there for you to reach out to when you need help. Her best time-saving tip: I like making lists. When you know what you need to get done you’re better able to manage what you can do in one day. In her downtime: I like to dance, mostly hip hop styles and lyrical. I also watch TV. Her tech must-haves: Netflix is pretty clutch. I love Spotify as well for jamming out but I don’t need my phone more than anyone else. In her beauty bag: I love Make Up Forever Duo Matte foundation. Her go-to power accessory: You can go a long way with some solid studs and a statement bracelet. Her secret superpower: When I wake up, I’m instantly on. There is no groggy hour of trying to come to consciousness, I can jump out of bed and start problem solving right away. Her theme song: “Flawless” by Beyoncé. Get more profiles right to your inbox each week!