How a Lesson From Her Son Inspired Elizabeth Sarquis to Build an Advertising Company for Social Good

"I thought advertising was terrible. Now I'm passionate about what it can do to help people rather than hurt them." - Elizabeth Sarquis

Our Co-Founder, Elizabeth Sarquis, recently sat down for an interview on Entrepreneur. Here are some of the highlights:

Who are you?
I’m the co-founder of Jukko, a programmatic mobile advertising network that’s strictly focused on participating in the purpose-driven brand revolution. Our vision is that everyone considers everything they do and use: where it’s made, how it’s made, and how it affects our society.

What are the core values that guide your business, and why did you pick them?
Building community, connecting people, and creating empathy and joy so people can relate to everything around them. Community is so important to us, whether built around faith, ethnicity, or something else. For us, it’s a moral duty to do everything we can to make the world better for everyone.

What’s your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is by the Lebanese-American artist, poet, and writer, Kahlil Gibran: “You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” I live by this essence.

What was your biggest challenge starting in business? How did you overcome it?
I came from the mobile gaming industry where you create, code, and design products for entertainment. Advertising is very different, and there’s a part of it that I don’t like. For a long time, advertising bombarded women with messages about how we should look and what we should wear. It told us that we had to buy or do certain things to be beautiful or cool, which made many people feel bad.

I wasn’t affected by these ads, but I saw how they impacted many others. I actually thought advertising was terrible, which was my biggest challenge starting Jukko. I’ve had to turn it into something different that I can get behind. Now I’m passionate about what advertising can do to help people rather than hurt them.

How do you identify a good business partner?
Elizabeth Sarquis: Definitely by their values and ethos. It isn’t scientific but I’m learning to trust my gut. Many people want to enter into a transaction with us, but whenever it feels transactional, I’m out. Partnerships are about relationships, not transactions. It’s about getting to know who you’re working with and understanding who they are. You just know when it’s right.

Before I founded Jukko, I started Global Gaming Initiative to create and host mobile games that give back. One day, my son, Alejandro, wrote on a Post-it note how much it cost to run the company compared to how much impact we had. “I don’t think this is sustainable,” he told me. “You have many friends in the mobile game space; let them continue making awesome products. You should figure out how to be a part of every single app and game so you can have an impact on a massive scale.” I thought that was weird, but I reflected on it and founded Jukko two years later.

When Alejandro graduated from college, he had offers from multiple Wall Street banks, but he wanted to work at Jukko. When I asked him why, he said that he didn’t want to do something that wasn’t changing or having an impact on the world. I was moved. Every single day, I feel honored that he works here. To me, he is leading the company.

How do you prevent burnout?
Elizabeth Sarquis: Nature is an integral part of my wellbeing. It doesn’t matter where I am, but I feel happy and enlightened every single day living in Salt Lake City, Utah. It was so cool to see snow on the mountains yesterday.

I also do meditation and yoga. I used to be a runner, but I suffered severe injuries after nearly dying in two car accidents. I still keep my body constantly moving, which is why I love hiking. I do all the things that help me connect with myself and a higher power. Music is another big one for me. In the mornings, I listen and dance to Colombian music.

Be sure to check out the full interview on entrepreneur.com