We had the good fortune of connecting with Sandrine Vohra and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sandrine, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I started MIKADO International because I saw an opportunity, a gap in the market, for something that I am passionate about and truly hit home. Diversity was something that wasn’t in the forefront like it is today and as a French immigrant of Indian origins, I recognized the need firsthand for an agency that truly catered to the ethnic consumer. So, with my background in international marketing, I launched MIKADO to fill that space. Fast-forward 11 years later and I am so proud to say that MIKADO has made a difference in its own way with the campaigns that we have created.
My background, and my aspirations, have led me to start MIKADO International – a multicultural marketing agency that specializes in helping businesses form meaningful relationships with diverse audiences, and ensuring that the communication is global and inclusive. And creating something that is disruptive not only in the marketing world, but also in terms of society with inclusivity and representation is something I am very proud of.
In today’s world, people tend to focus more on differences than on similarities, and that’s where, I believe, our work is slightly different. We look at developing marketing campaigns that are based on insights that are common across age, ethnicity, and gender, and can bring people together. We have successfully worked with local companies, as well as Fortune 100 brands to cater to their audiences in a meaningful manner.
Our work through MIKADO has also helped us be recognized as one of the top 100 women owned companies in Colorado, as well as one of the 100 fastest growing Asian American businesses. We have also received numerous industry recognized accolades over the years.
But what I am most proud of, is the culture that we have, which is the result of every person who has touched MIKADO. Our team is gender-balanced, multi-generational, multi-cultural, and I do believe that this diversity has been the foundation of our success.
I have always been a believer that diversity is a strength.
Were there challenges? Yes, of course. But it wouldn’t have been nearly as fun if it were a completely smooth road.
The challenges have come from different angles– starting a business is never easy and doing it in a country where you didn’t grow up is even harder – you have no support system, no network, or mentors to rely on. You really start from scratch.
Confidence is key across the board – know that you can do it and taking everything step by step is something I learned the hard way when I was trying to manage launching a new business. This came all while trying cater to my 2 young children as a single parent but I also learnt that a positive attitude, a network of amazing people you can lean on, and a master plan can make you go through anything smoothly.
Other challenges are more specific to owning a business – trying to be an autodidact and figuring things out on the go is always a challenge, and quite draining; but it is also amazing to see how quickly you grow and learn.
Throughout my life, my motto has been ‘ancora imparo’ – every mistake is an opportunity to learn, so don’t stop learning!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love living in Colorado and try to “show off” what a great state it is as much as I can when I have friends visiting. Outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, or visiting the mountains, Red Rocks, or the Rocky Mountain National Park are always on the agenda. I would love to take them out to all the nice places we have to eat and drink in Denver and Boulder now. Cholon is my favorite spot to grab dinner/drink! If we can squeeze a baseball, basketball or football game during that week, I would do that too, especially for my friends who come from abroad. I would end the week enjoying Colorado Springs with the Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs, 7 Falls, or Royal Gorge.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
MIKADO wouldn’t be where it is if it weren’t for my business partners – the other pillars of MIKADO – Brooke and Vikas. Not only from a work perspective, but on a personal growth level as well. The support, love, and encouragement that you get from your work partners is priceless.
We obviously have to thank our clients as well because without them, there is no MIKADO. I am grateful every day for the opportunity our clients give us to do such amazing work and help us make an impact.
And of course, there are all the well-wishers of MIKADO, be it family, friends, people in the industry who were always there to motivate you on the hard days, help you watch the kids when you had meetings, or pat your back when you were doing you.