Lately, it seems there is a board game for all sorts of situations. There are games where you tend gardens for pandas, ruin friendships, save the world, destroy the world, and everything in-between. Another game is trying to stand up for our attention and hopes to be an inspiration as well.
Upstart is a locally-made board game that, as its name implies, is about
starting your own business. It launched on Kickstarter back in October 15 and plays
out much like your standard table-top RPG.
But instead of your prototypical Dungeons and Dragons setup, your task is to start, stabilize, run, and make your business profitable. The idea for the game was thought up by Richard Dacalos and Lorena Flores, with the hope to empower entrepreneurs without the risk of real-world losses.
"There is a statistic stacked against anyone who's ever wanted to start a business or startup." says Dacalos, a social entrepreneur and business professor.Â "9 out of 10 businesses do not survive their first year and it's usually not for lack of skills or technical know-how. It's the little things that life throws at you... the things they don't teach in business school - a business partner leaving, your family demanding a steadier source of income, or a sudden shift in the market - these things add up and can make or break a business."
As in most table-top RPGs, you get to build your character from scratch. You can be a regular employee working 9-5, a full-time entrepreneur, a part-time entrepreneur, or a part-time employee. Whichever you choose though, the end goal remains the same: to survive starting up a business.
How you start will of course affect how you play the game; and in a world where the currency is time and money, you have to plan very carefully. Being a full-time employee means less time for the business, while being a full-time entrepreneur may mean no money to start and sustain your company.
As in life, the game teaches you to learn how to fail. And if you want
to succeed, you have to fail forward; meaning you take what you learned and try
again by doing things better. Failure is not something that can always be
achieved on your own (though it is entirely possible). Sometimes, it's the
little curveballs that life throws your way as you hit your stride - like how
getting sick before an investor's pitch throws off your entire game plan. Luckily,
the game lets you fail in a fictional environment, which makes it easier for
you to, as Aaliyah once sang, dust yourself off and try again.
"You can't grow a business in a silo so there's bound to be failure, and it's from failure that the best entrepreneurs learn to be successful." adds Flores, a senior marketing strategist and head of creatives for Upstart. "One reason we created Upstart was to practice failure... without really failing. We wanted a safe and fun environment where we can uncover our blind spots, our decision-making biases, our strengths and weaknesses."
There are many things to tackle about this game since it tries to simplify a task that is dependent on so many factors, a lot of which are not within the player's control. From market shifts, investor moods, to how well you can extend yourself over a 24-hour period, a lot of things can affect either everything or nothing in your business.
If you're interested in the game or are planning a startup business of your own, can head over to Upstart's webpage for more details. And if you want to financially make Upstart a reality, their Kickstarter page allows you to pledge, pre-order, and check out how you can contribute to the game's development and help the campaign reach its goals.