You’re recognized as a leader for your work in renewable energy and helping to power developing communities, but you’ve come a long way since the Soccket [an energy-generating soccer ball]! Can you tell us how you’ve scaled Uncharted Power and what your mission is today?
“Well, the mission truly has never changed: to bring sustainable infrastructure to communities around the world. However, what has changed—evolved, rather—is our understanding of the right way to do this. First, we were building energy-generating play products for distribution. Then we built energy-generating consumer products. We then shifted into infrastructure, before realizing that the focus should be less on being a power generation solution and more on being a conduit—a conduit not just for power but for all types of infrastructure to be streamlined and deployed to communities around the world.”
In your role as CEO you’re also in a position to inspire women, especially young BIPOC, to think big and break new ground, as you did with your Series A. What advice do you have for women trying to advocate for change in 2020?
“My advice would be to first articulate your vision. The true articulation of a vision is something that’s much harder than people think, especially when you’re tackling a very hard problem. And the vision that will be the solution for this is often quite complicated. And then second, find the right people to grow your vision with you. Capital is critical for a business, but knowing which people you need at a given moment to execute your vision can often be a very difficult process.
Also recognize that your diversity makes you competitive: In good businesses, diversity is not a question of charity, it is a question of strategy.
- Jessica O. Matthews
“My advice would be to see yourself as you are and not confine yourself to how other people decide to see you. People saw me as an inventor only, and I had to believe and know that I was more than that, even if it took a long time for people to grasp externally. I had to move forward, knowing in myself that I was also a businessperson and CEO. When I was continually labeled as a social entrepreneur, I moved forward knowing myself as an individual disrupting the energy sphere, which is what my company is now recognized as achieving.
“Also recognize that your diversity makes you competitive: In good businesses, diversity is not a question of charity, it is a question of strategy.”
This has been a trying year, to put it plainly. How have you been finding or seeking joy?
“We’ve had a series of proud moments working with a brilliant team on a very hard problem. And I think what encapsulates those proud moments is when we have the opportunity to bring what we’ve been building to very experienced people in the market and get the validation to know we’re on the right track. So, getting funding from the Siegel Family Endowment because of our thesis on the future of power and infrastructure development, and having Magic Johnson, a pioneer in developing for low-income communities, join our board are two incredibly proud validation moments from the past year.”