Design Thinking Simulation

The Food Truck Challenge



$150 / seat

Simulation Overview

In this exercise, participants try to run a successful food truck business. The players play the role of an entrepreneur and try to maximize their revenue over five simulated weeks by selling ice cream, frozen yogurt, or smoothies at various locations in the city of Boomtown. They are fighting to win the “Food Truck Challenge”. Working individually or in teams of 2 or three people, participants review basic market data, and then are faced with a choice: They can conduct additional market research, open a food truck immediately, or open a small pushcart. During each simulated week, participants can modify their choice. Instructors choose from three scenarios available in the underlying model, each with different optimal outcomes — so participants can play a second time after a debriefing session, and apply what they’ve learned, without knowing the solution as they attempt the exercise a second time.

In each round, participants make decisions about where to park and what menu item to offer in hopes of finding the best menu-location combination and yielding the highest sales. In the class debrief, participants discuss the trade-offs between analysis, experimentation, and scale. It requires no pre-work and can be played on a computer, tablet, or mobile phone.

Learning Focus

  • See the value of rapid prototyping in a changing environment
  • Understand how learning-by-doing may have advantages over research in some environments
  • Explore the challenging tradeoffs that leaders face as they launch a new product, service, or business
  • Practice making key decisions and adapting choices based on market feedback

Topics Covered

  • Design Thinking and Organizational Learning
  • Experimentation & Learning-by-Doing
  • Prototyping
  • Innovation
  • Product Development
  • Market Research, Startup, Teamwork

This simulation comes with a Teaching Guidebook for the facilitator along with 1:1 training sessions, free trials, videos and more.

This simualtion meets WCAG 2.0 Level AA Accessibility Guidelines


This simulation is by Michael Roberto, Harvard Business School Publishing, and Forio

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