Aspiring Entrepreneurs and All, Upstart May Be Your Jumpstart to Success

Starting and running a company is an endeavor of will and wit that requires ardor, audacity, patience, resilience, and a host of human qualities. Falling and failing are realities alongside strides and successes, all milestones part of turning a concept into a prototype, a prototype into a product or service, and a product or service into an enterprise.

Many books have been written, case studies taken, lectures and webinars given on launching a startup and the business acumen necessary to do so with as little pain as possible. However, nothing has yet been created that simulates the breath and depth of time, talent, and treasures demanded of individuals and teams. Here is where Upstart comes into play, pun intended.

Richard Dacalos, a friend and a member of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers community, understands the ups and downs of building something from scratch. So, he conceptualized what today is Upstart The Board Game. I recently caught up with him to learn more about Upstart and his Kickstarter campaign.

What’s Upstart?

Upstart is a board game that allows people to experience what it's like to start and sustain a business. You get to choose a role and background close to your real life and try to navigate through all of the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial journey. We created so people could experience all the success and failure of business without the risk and in an incredibly fun environment.

With whom and where have you been beta-testing?

Upstart has been the product of two years of testing with over 400 players. We've tested with high school students to senior citizens. We've also tested with would-be entrepreneurs to startup founders with successful exits. Our play testers have come from all over the world. (Philippines, South Africa, UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, USA, Canada, Cuba, etc)
In line with our Kickstarter campaign (that ends on November 19 - 12pm EST), I've been traveling and running game sessions in 12 cities so far (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Palo Alto, Portland - Oregon, Boulder, Havana - Cuba, Toronto, Montreal, Portland - Maine, Cambridge and Clinton - NY). I'll be heading to Lancaster - PA and Brooklyn after this.

What have you learned so far from feedback?

Feedback has been incredibly positive. Seasoned founders have never failed to share that the game is realistic but at the same time fun and insightful. At the end of every session, we have people share. The input and the insight people get from the game has really pushed us to share this with the world. The beauty of two years of feedback is having a very polished game with a solid set of rules.

How can people become involved with and contribute to Upstart?

Right now we need support through pledges! We have only a few days left and every pledge counts. People can support and share our campaign on Kickstarter. For anyone, in town (Lancaster and New York) during my last few game sessions: be sure to say hi!

This past summer, I had the chance to try out the pre-kickstarter version of Upstart for myself and have to say it was quite an eye opener. Played in the company of friends and strangers alike, I went through the ebb and flows of decision-making, resource management, risks, opportunities, balancing work and life, and more.

Gamification has proven to be an effective teaching method and Upstart shows potential as a tool from game rooms to classrooms to boardrooms and beyond. If you’re compelled, contribute to the Kickstarter and start something beautiful with Upstart The Board Game.

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