Entrepreneurship Simulation: The Startup Game

by Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and Ethan Mollick

$150 / seat
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Simulation Overview

Startups are different from larger firms, and often encounter unstructured and difficult problems that are not as well-defined as the strategy issues faced by established organizations. In this simulation, students play the role of different stakeholders in a market full of early-stage startups. They gain an understanding of decision-making under uncertainty, the variations in strategy among individuals, and experience with common trade-offs resulting from different strategies and decisions.

The Story

Students play one of three roles: founders, investors, or employees. Founders are individuals starting an early-stage company. Investors are Angel or VC investors. Employees are C-level talent who will become part of the core management team and will have a significant stake in the company. Students in all roles compete and cooperate in order to fund, join, and grow startups.

At the conclusion of the game, the simulation scores the performance of each student based on a range of key factors known to be important to startups: Rich versus King orientation, management skill sets, diversity, funding levels, equity versus salary compensation, and valuation approaches. In addition to an extensive teaching note, the simulation includes a video from Prof. Mollick and video interviews with successful entrepreneurs and investors for use during the classroom debrief session.

Before being made available to general audiences, this simulation was played by over 2,000 students — MBAs, undergraduates, and executive students — as well as people with both extensive entrepreneurial experience and those who are much less familiar with the concepts involved. It is often listed as a course highlight by players, regardless of their background.

Learning Focus

  • Introduce key concepts in entrepreneurial management, including valuation approaches, compensation, fundraising considerations, Rich versus King orientation, exploration versus exploitation, and the effects of diversity
  • Illustrate the interplay between the many factors required to make entrepreneurial ventures successful
  • Provide classroom experiences in entrepreneurship
Topics Covered

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Fundraising and Valuation Considerations
  • Rich versus King Orientation
  • Exploration, Exploitation, and Diversity
  • Employee Compensation
Additional Information
Duration

1 to 3 hours including introduction and debrief

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