Support the UPSTART board game for entrepreneurs

If there’s one Kickstarter project that deserves funding, it’s the UPSTART board game for entrepreneurs. Created by Richard “D-cal” Dacalos and Ina Flores, UPSTART is “a board game that simulates the ups and downs of starting and sustaining a business”.

Upstart box contents
Upstart box contents


I had the chance to play UPSTART in a small gathering of friends and bloggers at a very nice co-working space in Legaspi Village – Acceler8.

Playing Upstart 1

What’s the UPSTART board game all about?

Most people in business will tell you to fail fast and learn. But failing in an actual venture is painful and costly. Bottom line, it SUCKS!

UPSTART allows players to actually simulate a business without all the real costs and risks of putting one up. Different boxes of situation cards are the spice of the game. There are SMALL BREAK and BIG BREAK cards which are gains and opportunities you get in business. MARKET SHIFT cards change the market scenario positively or negatively. Then you have BREAKDOWN and GOD’S HAND cards that are life’s uncertainties that could happen in a real business. LIFE cards are life situations that happen, like starting a family or getting sick. That does happen when you’re in a business, right?


Open board game and situation cards


Playing Upstart 2
The group of bloggers gathered around the table as we are about to start playing Upstart


So….How Is the UPSTART Board Game Played?


Playing Upstart 3
Ina Flores, one of the people behind Upstart, takes us through the game


The UPSTART board game works like a printed role-playing game (RPG). You choose a background, each of which have their own advantages and disadvantages. A full-time employee, for example, would have a steady income flow but less time, while a full-time entrepreneur would have no income until profits from the business come in, but would have more time on  his hands.

Defining your background
Closeup of the background sheet


You then roll the dice and navigate through the board while making choices and dealing with chance (that’s when the situation cards come in). The game involves two currencies: time and money. At every turn (equivalent to one business week), you have to decide where to put your money and time. There are choices like revenue streams vs followers; taking care of yourself and raising your vitality vs taking care of one’s family.

Business profile and hour cards
Background sheet, business monitoring sheet, and time cards


Noemi and I used our Prep2Prime Digital business concept to play UPSTART and got a lot of insights that I think would help us down the road. We only did the shorter route of the game (a little over an hour) although Ina told us the usual time it takes to get through the game could stretch to 3-4 hours. That may sound too long but I tell you, once you’re into the game, the hours will just fly by.

The creators of UPSTART are on Kickstarter, a fundraising platform, in order to mass produce the game and ship them worldwide. Their aim on Kickstarter is US $35,000. At the time of this writing, they still have 12 days to go and they are just under $12,000 but let’s push that up. You can do any or all of the following to ensure that UPSTART makes it to production:

  1. Go to the UPSTART Kickstarter page and pledge at least US $68 in order to get the new and improved UPSTART edition.
  2. Share their Kickstarter page with your family and friends and ask them to also consider pledging support.
  3. If you are part of a school or company, share the Kickstarter page as well with your boss or whoever can make a decision to pledge support. The game can be played by students to train them to have an entrepreneurial mindset and companies can use these for their personnel development programs.

I don’t think there is any board game out there that has actually thought through the business process, risks, opportunities, and threats to it as well as the UPSTART board game. This game is playable by students, young professionals and probably even by long-time employees who are contemplating starting a business. I think even entrepreneurs will get a kick out of this and maybe still get some insights out of playing the game.

Upstart group pic
Blogger group photo



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