Interview with founder and CEO of Global Gaming Initiative and Jukko
Mobile games and advertising have become massive industries nationwide. A newcomer to the Utah business community, Elizabeth Sarquis founded two companies that leverage the immense scale of these industries for social good.
She founded the Global Gaming Initiative (GGI), a mobile game publisher focused on using the power of games to create empathy and an immersive way to understand the lives of others through play. Before moving to Utah, she founded Jukko, a mobile advertising platform dedicated to helping purpose-driven brands lead the business for good movement and generate more customers, at scale.
Sarquis was born in a small village in Colombia, South America. At age five, due to family circumstances, she was transplanted amidst a winter blizzard to Minnesota. Her multicultural background has helped her champion institutional and policy changes for nonprofits and guides her journey as a global citizen.
How did you get started in the industry?
The key to my professional success started when I took a computer programming class for fun. My love of technology, Mac computers and apps, led me to start both GGI and Jukko.
I started my journey in the mobile game industry when I realized the massive opportunity with the initial success of mobile games like Angry Birds. In seeing its success, I asked myself, “How can we use this magnificent and immersive tool to drive social impact on a big scale?”
What was the impetus for starting Jukko?
Ads, particularly in-app, were not engaging to players and diminished the quality of the game experience and overall revenue potential. This is why I started Jukko. We are combining the growing consumer desire to buy from purpose-driven companies with advertising experience. We’re helping purpose-driven brands generate more awareness and providing a way for consumers to discover these companies while helping publishers with more effective advertising monetization. It’s a win-win for all involved.
What recent professional accomplishments are you most proud of?
I am extremely proud of the TEDx talk I gave titled “Change In Your Pocket.” My experience speaking at TEDx at my alma mater, the University of Minnesota, made me aware that I needed to be in front of audiences in a grander way to achieve my goal of helping to facilitate the business for good movement.
I was also humbled to receive the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, an honor given to American immigrants who are using their talents to impact humanity positively. As someone who was uprooted from my home at a young age, the meaning of this award has a special place in my heart.
What drew you to Utah?
The first thing that drew me to the state is Utahns’ values. It’s important to me to have not only family values but also broader social values where the wellbeing of the collective is taken into consideration.
What do you like most about living in Utah?
I am attracted to Utah’s natural beauty. I admire the beautiful mountains every day and participate in all the sports I can, from skiing and snowshoeing to hiking.
What do you like most about doing business in Utah?
Utah has a great business environment that is very welcoming. People are excited to work with you and are very respectful. I feel like I’m adding to the community in a way that I have never been able to do before.
What advice do you have for individuals considering starting a business, or relocating their business, to Utah?
Go ahead. Don’t wait.
What is your primary challenge of doing business in Utah?
The national perception of Utah is often misguided. When I’m in New York, people are always asking me, “How do you fit in”? Utah is a mecca for technology companies that are forward-thinking and purpose-driven.
What is your business philosophy?
Businesses must positively impact everyone involved, from customers and employees to the surrounding community and the environment. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be in business.
Tell me a fun fact about yourself.
I listen to “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carole King every day. It’s a beautiful song and reminds me why I’m here.