Should you use a headhunter or rely on word-of-mouth to recruit employees? When should you launch? What should you use to compensate employees for their low salaries: free beer or a ping pong table?
Many entrepreneurs use the word “rollercoaster” to describe their life when they are founding and managing a startup. Now you too can take get a taste of the rollercoaster with the help of a new and quite realistic simulator.
Once you choose your partner, the game begins
Several weeks ago, we told you about a game that lets you play the role of a startup entrepreneur on the hunt to achieve the title of unicorn – a company with a $1 billion valuation. That game, which was easy and fun, was designed mainly for entertainment. This time, however, we want to introduce you to a real simulator to which real effort and resources have been devoted. This simulator is aimed at giving you a realistic semblance that an entrepreneur who founds a startup actually experiences.
Despite its light touch and resemblance to simulation games, “The Founder” is a very realistic simulator. It sends the user back to 2001, just after the dot.com bubble burst. With the little money you raised in your seed round, you have to decide whether you are interested in starting a software or hardware company. You have to select a specialty (social or ecommerce, for example), and then recruit a co-founder.
You will have many decisions to make in managing your startup: developing a product, hiring employees, and your positioning in the various projects you are managing. Every decision you make has many influences on other variables, such as the financial state of the company, employee satisfaction, and the board of directors’ satisfaction. In order to get a market share, you will have to win a pleasant game, in which your victory or loss immediately affects the company’s situation and development.
Every employee you hire will be represented by an avatar circulating in the office. You can click on the avatar to look at his latest tweet and find out how he is doing, and whether he is satisfied. Obviously, if the employees are dissatisfied, you can always go to the perks tub and get a beer faucet, coffee machine, or ping pong table for the office. You can also give them a subscription to a fitness room or a TalkSpace-style text message service for psychologists.
Although the game is very realistic, there are quite a few comic moments, for example when you are recruiting employees. In order to make up for low salaries and persuade them to join you, you can soft-soap them with slogans like “We’re building products that will change the world,” “This company is going to be a giant,” “Your development is going to influence a lot of people,” and inevitable, “Organizational culture is a very important thing here.” Of course, when you play longer and get further along in the game, your company will grow, and the tasks will change accordingly. You will even encounter the “disruption” of having to conduct political lobbying.
The mind behind the game is developer, designer, and researcher Francis Tseng, who first presented it in the framework of a successful Kickstarter campaign. The game is free and available through the browser. Realizing that you probably have actual work to get done if you will ever reach your goal of startup greatness, it includes an option for saving your progress for picking up where you left off.