Blog / The Market

[The Market] The game of business

Key Takeaway: Innovative board game Upstart is an entrepreneurial startup simulation board game that the passionate entrepreneur-to-be can use to practice and grow their skills – as well as learn more about themselves – while having fun in the process. With its very realistic rules and wide variety of opportunities players can avail of per turn given the limited resources, Upstart is sure to help you refine how you would run your own business/es eventually.

(Social) entrepreneurship may not be for everyone, but for those that it¬†is for, it tends to be such a driving force in their lives that they become what they represent. But for some of us – myself included – it’s a real challenge on learning to be successful entrepreneurs because I believe in learning by doing. That’s why I love simulations and games – they blend theory with practice without necessarily sacrificing real resources; I’m planning to begin using¬†Trade Hero before I do actual stock investments.

And I love board games, because they offer a kind of social fun you can’t get elsewhere. A huge bonus is added if they have a social objective of sorts.¬†Three months ago, I featured The Think Game, which aims to unlock its players’ mental capacities to the fullest so that their future productivity to society can be maximized. Today, I’ll be talking about another board game, one with similar objectives but very different means: a board game for entrepreneurship. This is Upstart.

SPIN/The Spark Project

SPIN/The Spark Project

If you like games, and love entrepreneurship as well, Upstart is something you should consider when you’re relaxing. It’s a board game that simulates incubating then growing your own startup, with eerily realistic things that could happen, such as sudden changes in fortune for better or worse that would affect your current resources for the rest of the turn or the rest of the game. It is an initiative of the¬†Social Play and Innovation Network¬†(SPIN), an interdisciplinary community that solves social problems through collaboration and business.

Each of the 2-5 players start off with their own profile, a sum of two characteristics regarding their current work status as well as skills they specialize in. These affect their initial inventory of the game’s two currencies – financial and temporal – and their attributes (Family, Social, Vitality) whose amounts can make some tasks easier or even impossible. Being a business simulation game, each player has two bank accounts, personal and business. You can use the personal account for business expenses, but not the other way around. The game’s banker-cum-master, or God, administers the game and can suddenly change rules halfway through (such as suddenly drawing a “God’s Hand” card, or timing each turn), mirroring real-life unexpected circumstances that can come your (or everyone’s) way.¬†There are three ways to win: by successfully scaling up the business (conditions to which are printed on the board), by having 10,000 followers, or by having 450,000 cc (collaborative currency – the financial currency) in the personal account.



Each turn represents one “week” of life, and follows a structure of gameplay: “Upkeep”, which refers to ongoing payments such as employee wages and installment purchases; the die rolling to advance throughout the board; benefits that you reap from hired or partnered team members; Actions that you can play every turn across personal or business affairs (the latter of which includes general, revenue-generating, and advertising activities) for a cost, whether it be financial and/or temporal; and lastly cash flows for you. The interesting thing to note is that you need to¬†request for your benefits and cash flows, as is in real life: the God may opt to not remind players about their benefits and profits, thereby forcing players to keep themselves in check all the time.

Throughout the game, players are confronted with a very wide variety of choices as to what they can do make the most of what has been given them. Some of these opportunities may be beyond their reach as of the moment (as they may need very high amounts of money), while a lot are¬†generally affordable at the start but can not all be availed of. Therefore, you need to play to your strengths and/or interests, and strategize which goal you aim to achieve for and which opportunities you’d avail of per turn to get there.

As in life, we have limited resources available – time being the most limited – and it is up to us to maximize how we use our circumstances. It thus allows us to reflect on ourselves and know ourselves more – and so¬†I would say Upstart is a tool to help find your higher purpose as it allows you to discover your strengths, your interests, your skills, and help shape the vision you’re going for using said strengths, interests, and skills.

Although the game is still just about to enter formal production, I can already see how much potential it has in the entrepreneurship landscape and community to help shape and develop the young passionates who are determined to see their visions become reality. I’d rather learn in a more fun manner than through boring means, and for something as technical and as tedious as entrepreneurship, Upstart is definitely the way to go.

Upstart is currently an entry on The Spark Project, a Philippine-based crowdfunding site for innovative initiatives. You can contribute by choosing from 4 tiers:

  • the basic Php500.00 that gives you a thank you e-card and credits;
  • Upstarter (Php1,500.00), which gives you your own set (SRP is Php2,500.00) and credits;
  • Upstarter+ (Php2,500.00), which also gives you access to a coaching session in Metro Manila;
  • Upstarter Santa (Php2,750.00), which gives you¬†two boards and¬†two passes to the session; and
  • Upstart Ambassador and Entrepreneur (Php5,000.00), which gives you one board and one pass only but also a 1-year license to have your¬†own Upstart events you can charge participants for [only in Metro Manila].

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