Energy-Harvesting Soccer Balls Score $7 Million

September 21, 2016 by Jeff Shepard

Uncharted Play, an energy company known for its flagship product, the SOCCKET, just closed its first major round of financing, with an equity seed round of $7 million. The round was led by The NIC Fund, a syndicate from the African continent focused on investing in renewable energy opportunities. Also participating are Kapor Capital, Magic Johnson Enterprises, BBG Ventures, and Lingo Ventures.

Expanding from its roots in developing energy generating sports products for resource-poor communities, Uncharted Play is taking the core technology behind its current products the SOCCKET and the PULSE, and revolutionizing the renewable energy field with the introduction of self-sufficient, customizable, energy systems that have the ability to harness motion to power electronics, removing the need for external power systems.

The new technology platform is called ‘MORE’, (Motion-based, Off-Grid, Renewable Energy). MORE is a platform for customizable, low-cost micro-generators that can be seamlessly integrated into almost any product, harnessing ambient kinetic energy to power small electronics, mobile devices, and sensors for IoT (Internet of Things) applications. From baby strollers to shopping carts to smart city infrastructure, this technology will create new avenues for clean, cost-efficient, renewable energy that will complement, if not replace, other energy systems currently in use.

Kinetic energy is one of the most under-utilized forms of energy. Until now, consumers and businesses faced a trade-off between cost and efficiency when selecting generator solutions. Uncharted Play’s MORE systems overcome this obstacle with the development of a “lego-ization” method for altering the size and shape of their generator systems using bulk pieces that can be manufactured at a significantly lower cost than systems with off-the shelf generators.

Uncharted Play plans to partner with manufacturers across several industries—from consumer electronics to infrastructure—to put “MORE Inside™” many familiar products used in the home, business and community. The company aims to democratize energy access worldwide, transforming the way we scale energy systems and putting power into the hands of the people.

“We not only aim to disrupt how energy is generated, but how it is consumed,” says Uncharted Play Founder & CEO, Jessica O. Matthews. “We envision a world where people shift from a ‘hoard & save’ energy mentality to a ‘continuous and on-demand’ energy experience.”

In addition to expanding its core technology, the company has relocated its headquarters to the New York City neighborhood of Harlem in an effort to contribute to the tech ecosphere in one of the nation’s most diverse communities.

“A lot of people talk about diversity almost like a charity”, says Matthews, “What they fail to realize is that diversity is simply good business. Diversity is the key to maintaining the innovation that brought our company to this point. ”

This is a goal that is personal for Matthews, being one of the few female African-American tech CEOs in the startup world, and having raised the largest Series A round ever raised by a black female CEO to date.

“By embracing the power of diversity, play, and community, we are changing the way the world looks at innovation – and innovators”, says Matthews. Uncharted Play plans on partnering with local organizations, such as Silicon Harlem, to enact outreach events encouraging youth participation in STEM and social innovation within the Harlem neighborhood.

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. The company’s flagship product, the SOCCKET, addresses the energy problem with the most popular sport around the world–soccer. The SOCCKET is an energy-harnessing soccer ball that can be used to provide light after play. The company’s CEO, Jessica O. Matthews, invented the ball while she was a junior at Harvard studying psychology.