Entrepreneurship Game

Give students the experience of running a startup

Instructor-led - Alternate Reality Course
Skills you'll learn
  • Building the founding team
  • Approaches to finding product-market fit
  • Pitching and selling to customers and investors
  • Managing entrepreneurial finances
  • Negotiating with potential business partners and investors
  • Scaling and growing a company
  • Making data-driven decisions
Time commitments
Experience duration:
Varies, but usually 6-7 class periods
Touch points:
Synchronous team sessions & asynchronous work
Learning time:
Approximately 22 hours
Full details below

Students will experience running a startup

The Entrepreneurship Game is a multi-session simulation in which students work in teams and take on the role of a founding team of a startup, and experience the challenges of leading a business to success. Students will make key decisions that will affect the future of the startup: they will need to persuade customers to buy their product; conduct business experiments; and find investors to fund their venture - all while managing key elements of hiring, finance, and marketing. The challenges are realistic and engaging, drawn from the experiences of successful founders of startup companies and the latest research.

The Entrepreneurship Game is like a flight simulator for founders– giving your students a chance to learn hard-won lessons before they encounter them in real life.

If you'd like to learn more about this simulation and how you can use it in your class, contact us

Entrepreneurship Game

The Student Experience

Students experience a unique simulation that takes place over multiple class sessions and contributes to both learning and engagement:

The Entrepreneurship Game is based on the latest in pedagogy, drawing on evidence that games and simulations offer significant increases in learning outcomes. Though the experience is fully automated for students, the Game is particularly effective when combined with traditional teaching methods. In ARCs, students learn through experience as their decisions affect the in-game narrative, through adaptive feedback delivered in the interface that allows them to focus on attribution—what led to my success or failure? - and apply what they learn as they continue to play the game. We reinforce course objectives throughout, giving learners a chance to practice and reflect on that practice. ARCs are designed to provide learners with scaffolding for every objective, providing timely and useful feedback at multiple points and prompting learners to engage in knowledge building as they make connections between new concepts and their actions in the game.

To harness and maintain attention, the Entrepreneurship Game uses interactive fiction to deliver a hyper-immersive world, thus making learning compelling and personal. The story reveals the key questions learners must grapple with. Through the story, learners have the autonomy and agency to make decisions and choose among a number of options to advance and change their story in the game. Learners progress through branching narratives in which their choices lead them to different scenarios and, ultimately, to different endings. By immersing themselves in their roles and committing to their decisions, learners live through a narrative arc in which they are deeply invested.

We push the levers of engagement across the Game experience. Learners want to know what happens next because they live through compelling scenarios that carefully weave the player character (the learner) into the narrative, thus making them a central and integral part of the fictional world. The world-building is nuanced and multi-dimensional; learners are challenged to move out of their comfort zone and to actively explore to gain the key information required to inform their decision-making. Like the real world, information gathering in the Entrepreneurship Game often comes in the form of interacting with interesting characters who challenge and surprise them. By making consequential choices, learners progress as they rack up a series of wins and losses.

Throughout the Game, we embed messages from experts, characters who guide learners, and interactive videos that allow learners to speak to characters. These interactive videos promote better learning outcomes; learners pay close attention to the video, and that attention drives learning. We also use a number of game elements in the Entrepreneurship Game to prompt and maintain player engagement and motivation. Learners attain a sense of competence as they achieve mastery, beginning with small wins and progressing to bigger and more consequential decisions. Initial scenarios and choices are fairly straightforward, and learners get a lot of support through those initial choices. But as the game progresses, we increase the stakes so that learners reap the rewards of their initial investment.

Additional game elements that increase engagement include badges, grades, and leaderboards. Learners who are up to the challenge are also presented with additional, voluntary side quests—these are usually individual challenges that a learner can opt into. Side quests also have a specific learning objective, a narrative component, and a reward for completion. Learners who complete side quests are rewarded with achievements and public acknowledgment for successful completion. All of these game elements serve a dual purpose: to immerse the learner in the game so that learning is deeply engaging and to focus the learners’ attention on important concepts, harnessing the power of games as drivers of learning.

What is an Alternate Reality Course (ARC)?

Built on our ARC platform, Alternate Reality Courses are a new breed of serious games. Every course combines world-class subject matter expertise, hyper-immersive interactive fiction, the science of learning, and innovative game design. ARCs are deeply engaging, teach through experience, and promote robust and enduring knowledge that learners will use beyond the course.

An ARC teaches learners in three ways:

  • Learning objectives - skills learners will gain and use in the future
  • Practice objectives - specific experiences learners will encounter, so that when they see them in the real world, they will know what to do
  • Thinking objectives - mental techniques learners will develop that are applicable outside of the context of the simulation

Featuring

How our experiences work

Access teaching materials, support and notifications every step of the way

Setup

Configure for your learning objectives, set up classes in the experience

Players Prepare

Invite learners to enroll and set up their groups

Play

Run the experience and access support and notifications as you go

Debrief

Summarize the experience for your learners and the outcomes

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Lessons of Entrepreneurship Game include:

  • Building a founding team: equity agreements, team dynamics, chartering
  • Financing a venture: cash flow, funding choices, terms, sources of capital
  • Business experiments: data gathering, hypothesis testing, pivoting
  • Hiring and scaling: candidate screening, interviewing, selection
  • Sales and marketing: selecting product features, securing sales, selecting key customers
  • Negotiations: establishing positions, analyzing bargaining power, conducting high-stakes negotiations
  • Pitching and persuasion: building pitch decks, giving elevator pitches, explaining a startup
  • Leadership: inspiring a team, avoiding common pitfalls, achieving consensus
  • Experiencing the types of data that are generated by business experiments: surveys, market tests, and interviews
  • Encountering key documents used by startups: pitch materials, legal agreements, and market research
  • Engaging with critical stakeholders in high-stakes settings: funders, customers, and employees
  • Navigating through common points of failure for startups: team conflict, scaling, and process loss
  • Perspective-taking and the ability to analyze multiple viewpoints
  • Improvisation and bricolage; making do with what you have to solve novel problems
  • Self-monitoring and metacognition
  • Self-efficacy and the confidence to accomplish entrepreneurial challenges

Learning objectives

  • Building a founding team: equity agreements, team dynamics, chartering
  • Financing a venture: cash flow, funding choices, terms, sources of capital
  • Business experiments: data gathering, hypothesis testing, pivoting
  • Hiring and scaling: candidate screening, interviewing, selection
  • Sales and marketing: selecting product features, securing sales, selecting key customers
  • Negotiations: establishing positions, analyzing bargaining power, conducting high-stakes negotiations
  • Pitching and persuasion: building pitch decks, giving elevator pitches, explaining a startup
  • Leadership: inspiring a team, avoiding common pitfalls, achieving consensus

Practice objectives

  • Experiencing the types of data that are generated by business experiments: surveys, market tests, and interviews
  • Encountering key documents used by startups: pitch materials, legal agreements, and market research
  • Engaging with critical stakeholders in high-stakes settings: funders, customers, and employees
  • Navigating through common points of failure for startups: team conflict, scaling, and process loss

Thinking objectives

  • Perspective-taking and the ability to analyze multiple viewpoints
  • Improvisation and bricolage; making do with what you have to solve novel problems
  • Self-monitoring and metacognition
  • Self-efficacy and the confidence to accomplish entrepreneurial challenges

Authors

Ethan Mollick - Headshot

Ethan Mollick

Professor of Management

Read Ethan's Bio