Jukko – Meaningful Engagement on Mobile | Elizabeth Sarquis

 

About Elizabeth Sarquis

Elizabeth Sarquis is the founder and CEO of Jukko, the first ever mobile discovery platform designed to foster positive social impact. She is also the CEO and founder of Global Gaming Initiative. Elizabeth has worked extensively with United Way, the National Eating Disorders Association, Park Nicollet Health Services, and others to advocate solutions to youth diseases, disorders, and systemic impediments to positive growth. Elizabeth holds degrees in political science and human physiology, as well as a master’s degree in child development from the University of Minnesota. Global Gaming Initiative’s first game, Sidekick Cycle, an addictive, downhill cycling racing title, launched in 2013 and benefits both World Bicycle Relief and Free Bikes for Kids. Their second game, Winning Kick, is a single-player soccer game where 50% of proceeds will go to providing soccer balls to impoverished children across the developing world through nonprofit partner Charity Ball.

Interview Transcript:

Alan
Welcome back and visiting here today with Elizabeth Sarquis. Elizabeth, welcome to the show.

Elizabeth
Thank you. I’m really happy to be here.

Alan
So Elizabeth, you have a very unique background. And before we get into the company, that’s true, you founded judo. Let’s let’s rewind and give me the timeline of your life. How did you get to where you are today?

Elizabeth
Well, that’s a fun story to tell. I was born in Colombia, South America, in a little town called el blanco, Magdalena. And at the age of five, right before my fifth birthday, we moved to the United States. And I moved from Bogota, Colombia to Minneapolis, Minnesota, it was the first time I ever saw snow. So imagine I get there. And it’s two days before Christmas, and there’s snow above the doors. And I was just like, wow, so I’m in this new culture, new environment, everyone around me had blond hair and blue eyes. And they always asked me where I was from, they thought I was like an outcast. What country are you from? Where are you? And eventually, by the, when I was 13, I was able to go back to visit Columbia. And I spent every summer there as a child until I was 21. And what that did for me was it provided me the opportunity to see some big disparities between people that have and people that don’t have. And what I mean by that is that I saw socio economic differences just very quickly. And it was always in my heart. And I just thought to myself, How is this possible that so many people living in the same Eric, it has such disparities. And so even as an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota, I was a pre med student, and I worked for two of the top kidney transplant doctors. They asked me to work in the volunteer coordination of the terminally ill children. And I needed a job. So I had two other jobs. And I was supporting my sister at the time. And I thought, okay, who I can do that? What is it? So I went, Well, I ended up doing that job for eight years. And let me tell you, it changed my life. Every Thursday night, I worked with children who had cancer and cystic fibrosis. And it was heart, it was heart wrenching, and heartwarming. Because every time I arrived, they would either wheel their wheelchairs really quickly to give me a hug. And they would be so happy when we played bingo, or had clowns or artists or anything like that. And then I would come sometimes and ask for John or, or Kathy and the nurses were telling me that they were no longer with us. And that became really difficult for me. But I saw how we could bring joy to children in such an easy way that could often be overlooked. That was a very important thing for me. And I spent the next 25 years of my life after while I was raising my children working in the nonprofit space. And I did all sorts of things in the nonprofit space from projects in the United Way Children’s Theater. I’m on the currently on the board of Games for Change, and the National Eating Disorder Association. And one of the things that I saw was a problem in the nonprofit world, especially during the financial crisis in 2007. And 2008, was that people started to become very concerned about where their money was going, that they weren’t so excited about just giving to nonprofits. And after being like a very big proponent of organizations like united way in which we raised a lot of money in a corporation, that that my husband and I were a big part of at BestBuy, we came to realize that that people want to be connected with the dollars that they’re giving, they want to see the impact, basically. So what we did is that after my son, my youngest son, I have three children. And they all three of them work with me on the company that we’re launching called JUCO. And my youngest son was working in Ecuador, and he realized that he was building a school and a welfare kids in a remote village. And there was a little boy that was still didn’t want to go to school at all. 100 was so confounded by this. He was like, why don’t you want to go to school on Yeah, I have here told him that he had to walk three hours each day to get to school and three hours to get home. So after this trip, you can imagine we spent many dinnertime conversations trying to figure out how we can deal with this problem. Because one day, he looked at me and he said, Mom, you have to help him. And of course, we knew that we could help this particular child. But our biggest desire was to show the world that they could all be part of changing children’s lives. Now how you go about doing that is a bigger challenge. So we found it after that we founded a company called Global Gaming initiative. And global gaming initiative had a very simple premise, make great mobile games, connect them to social causes, and help deliver tangible goods. And in that program, we have we that company still exists and we donate bikes, malaria treatment, soccer balls, things that make a difference in kids lives. And after working one summer as an intern for our company, Alejandro again, my youngest son said to us, well, I think there’s a bigger way that you You can help. And we were like, what I mean, I’m doing great. Like, we’re all these game developers want to be part of our platform, what’s wrong with what we’re doing? No, nothing’s wrong. But if you take a step back, you could have a bigger impact. And so it was then that we just took a step back and say, Well, how is that, and we started to evaluate how we could be a part of all games, and all brands, and socially conscious consumers, which we see as a tipping point in the current environmental situation, especially with all the concerns that society has about resources. So that’s when we decided to develop Chico.

Alan
It’s amazing that your history and life history is it’s because of the experience that you’ve given. You had you you’ve learned how to give heavily back in the communities to help people throughout their life. And so developing a social conscious company like JUCO is really is really the next step. You know, now, when, when you’re launching this, and this is this is going to be launched within 2016. Yes. Okay. Yeah. How are you going to reach out to the other companies and social socially consequent fees and have them be brought in as part of your community?

Elizabeth
Well, there’s a couple of ways but the most important ways for them to know that we exist. So we want them to know that this platform is being developed for them. So if you’re a socially conscious brand, obviously, we want to talk to you. And we’re also a benefit corporation. And being a benefit corporation enables us to be surrounded by companies that already are doing work like that in the world. And those companies, I’m sure you know who they are, there are lots of companies, Ben and Jerry’s is like one of my favorites. Because everywhere you go in the world, you see a Ben and Jerry’s and you see a line outside of it. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Spain, or in the US or in Latin America.

Alan
When when JUCO is is developing the community, then will you’re primarily, will it be more focused on a certain segment of the market? Or how do you? How do you plan to roll this out?

Elizabeth
Yeah. So a couple of ways, we, we have actually three different users for our platform. So one of our users is socially conscious brands. And that can mean anyone really, so if you’re a corporation that has a big CSR campaign, but people don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll be able to share your story with consumers. And that’s what they want to know. Because consumers now they really want to know if your values, their values are in alignment with your company’s values, and they want to shop with those companies. So this is an opportunity for brands to tell their stories in a different way and in a different environment than they’re accustomed to. And for game developers, well, they’re like, I have lots of conversations with them. And they’re like, wow, you know, 49% of app developers monetized through some kind of advertising, and typically is the kind of advertising that people want to push the X but not. And what we found in our testing is that people get so enamored with the ads that they’re like, Wow, I want to learn more. And this is good for me. And this is good. This, for example, there was a water brand and medical VC guy was visiting with me, and he was like, well show me what MVP looks like. And he looked at it, he was like, you went home, he found the location where they sell the water, he went back to Seattle and bought the water. So that was like, you know, a great testimonial. And for game developers, if they can be part of a social impact, way of giving back, that’s huge. And then for users, you know, for everyday people who are using apps, and games and or just reading the news or anything that has some kind of advertising in it. They can collect Social Impact currency. And they can translate that into real items. So they can buy, for example, a backpack, a book, a pencil, eventually build schools, and all sorts of things within their user experience. So it’s, it’s a really like the first of its kind type of platform like this. So we’re very excited to announce it to the world.

Alan
Excited to see this roll out. Yes. Now, the name JUCO. Yes. How did you come up with the name

Elizabeth
JUCO JUCO was a fun experience. So we were literally sitting in my older son’s apartment in Manhattan. He’s a lawyer, and he was kind enough to offer us His, his space so that we didn’t have to rent office space. And we sat there and we’re like, how are we going to come up with a name for what we’re rolling up? And we went through many languages. So we started with English and Spanish because I speak Spanish. And then we went to some other languages like German and French and, and we do have a Chinese animator on our team. But Chinese is a little more difficult to really pronounce. So we were like, Okay, we’ll stay away from that. And we came up, we do a lot of work with finished game developers, and we came up with this word JUCO. And as soon as it was brought up, it was like, wow, that So our word, because JUCO means you’ve mastered, you’ve scaled. And that’s what we as a community want to do, we want to give massive scale to socially conscious brands and consumers.

Alan
We left off by talking about the content creator, what is

Elizabeth
yes, the content creator is something that we develop, that is going to help brands be very optimized in the creation of their ads. And so when you go to the content creator, you basically get to load up their logo, you get to load up content of what it is that you want to share, we’ll give you templates. So you can drag and dropping in pretty good, cute, cute little package, and then bingo, you have your ad, it literally is going to take a team at any company 15 to 30 minutes, putting it together versus endless hours and endless meetings. And then what can happen is if they’re not really excited about the ROI that they’re getting, and they think, oh, maybe our consumers will like this color, like they’ll like that purple color instead of blue, they can try that out for the next week’s ad. So they basically get to manage that and really do it in an efficient way.

Alan
So I want to change topics on this. And I want to go back to the socially responsible brands. And when, when we’re talking about that. Not everyone has the concept of what that means, like you mentioned Ben and Jerry’s, and but when they when a brand says, you know, I think we I think we want to move more towards this direction, how would they go about doing that inside, and typically what type of companies are, are moving that direction?

Elizabeth
Well, if you look at all of the Fortune 500 companies in the US, they all have huge CSR campaigns. And what I mean by that is that they have huge foundations and that they’re already giving back. But the problem for consumers is that they don’t know that, unless they go deep into the financial records of these companies, they don’t necessarily know what they’re doing. And in JUCO, you’ll have the opportunity to really tell your story a different way. And you’ll be able to say lead with that. And you’ll say, Hey, we are Company X, and this is what we’re doing. It’s good for the world, or we’re really concerned about the environment, or world, a water company, we give 1% of our proceeds to water projects all over the world. So I think that that the the space for every company to be a part of JUCO is very significant. And then obviously, and currently, there’s so many new enterprising, and, and so many young entrepreneurs that are developing companies just like this, like they lead with that. And the millennial generation is so smart, because they know that they have this is their responsibility, because they’ve been given a lot to clean up. And so they are developing their own brands, whether it’s cosmetics or jewelry, or apparel, they’re already doing that. So they always tell you that part of their story. And that’s what’s going to be really exciting to go.

Alan
I want to delve a little bit deeper Lizabeth, when when you look at life, and you’ve seen quite a bit coming from Colombia and McCain to this country, and you’ve had significant experiences which have given you the causes, give back and in help. When you look into the future, though, what are some of the greatest concerns that you see facing the world today?

Elizabeth
I think the number one concern is education. Without education, you can’t prosper. And so many children across the world, including our own country, don’t have you know, the access to education, I think education is going to change in the US but more broadly, it’s even just having exposure, the ability to learn. And I think that technology for the first time being deployed in in a useful way is going to impact that. Okay,

Alan
I want to move back into the CSR area and then the into the companies that would make a good bid into your community. How would they go about contacting you and becoming part of gIucose community?

Elizabeth
Well, they would. The way that they would do that is they would obviously send us an email and say hey, you know we want to be a part of that your website is a website is juco.com and that’s with two Ks je je UKK Oh, okay. I comm send me an email, call me I’m easily reached. And you can obviously contact anyone on our team, and there’s contact numbers on our website. And we would encourage every company around the world to be thinking this way. And it’s the little things that make a difference. It’s the little things that that we don’t know, that make a difference. So it’s that Stovall, it’s that it’s that ability to imagine like, you can’t go to school, if you don’t have a uniform. You’ve seen brands that have done this with shoes, for example, because you know, kids couldn’t, you know, go to school, if they didn’t wear shoes, right? Well, you don’t have a uniform, you don’t have a bat. I mean, it’s just very small things as my youngest son likes to call them. They’re, you know, very small micro things, but they make a huge impact in the lives of kids.

Alan
And so. So Elizabeth, let’s move into the user experience with the app, how does how does using the app to being part of the community helped to give back and make a difference in the lives of others.

Elizabeth
That’s one of my other favorite parts is because because people are using technology every day. And I like to say that you have changed in your pocket, that’s one of my favorite lines, you pull out your phone, and you’re doing everything on it. But now for the first time ever, your time, by using whatever you love to do every day, whether it’s a game or an app, or utility app, or you’re reading something that converts into JUCO currency, which is then converted into real currency. And within the same experience, let’s say you’re on the subway in New York for 20 minutes, and you play one of your favorite games, right? All the stuff you do on you know, your, you know, your publications, you actually have achieved 50 cents, where the real dollars and in those 50 cents in that moment, you can actually buy something for a kid in our store. It’s like $1.67, to provide food for a child for a month to our goods for good nonprofit in Africa. So it’s things like that, that really will move the needle and eventually, as a community as the community grows, we’ll be able to build really amazing things that will improve the lives of kids in education.

Alan
It’s a very unique vision that JUCO has, and I wish you the best in this company. Thank you. I’m missing here today with Elizabeth Sarchie. She is the founder and CEO of JUCO. Check it out@jukko.com Blizzard, thanks for being on today’s show.

Elizabeth
Thank you so much for having me.

Alan
We’ll be right back after these messages.

 

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This transcript was generated by software and may not accurately reflect exactly what was said.

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Elizabeth Sarquis on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Elizabeth Sarquis

Elizabeth Sarquis is the founder and CEO of Jukko, the first ever mobile discovery platform designed to foster positive social impact. She is also the CEO and founder of Global Gaming Initiative. Elizabeth has worked extensively with United Way, the National Eating Disorders Association, Park Nicollet Health Services, and others to advocate solutions to youth diseases, disorders, and systemic impediments to positive growth. Elizabeth holds degrees in political science and human physiology, as well as a master’s degree in child development from the University of Minnesota. Global Gaming Initiative’s first game, Sidekick Cycle, an addictive, downhill cycling racing title, launched in 2013 and benefits both World Bicycle Relief and Free Bikes for Kids. Their second game, Winning Kick, is a single-player soccer game where 50% of proceeds will go to providing soccer balls to impoverished children across the developing world through nonprofit partner Charity Ball.

Alan Olsen on Alan Olsen's American Dreams Radio
Alan Olsen

Alan is managing partner at Greenstein, Rogoff, Olsen & Co., LLP, (GROCO) and is a respected leader in his field. He is also the radio show host to American Dreams. Alan’s CPA firm resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and serves some of the most influential Venture Capitalist in the world. GROCO’s affluent CPA core competency is advising High Net Worth individual clients in tax and financial strategies. Alan is a current member of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research (S.I.E.P.R.) SIEPR’s goal is to improve long-term economic policy. Alan has more than 25 years of experience in public accounting and develops innovative financial strategies for business enterprises. Alan also serves on President Kim Clark’s BYU-Idaho Advancement council. (President Clark lead the Harvard Business School programs for 30 years prior to joining BYU-idaho. As a specialist in income tax, Alan frequently lectures and writes articles about tax issues for professional organizations and community groups. He also teaches accounting as a member of the adjunct faculty at Ohlone College.

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