Mind your own business!

We had a great * e x p a n d * class last week. It was the “big project” where three teams had to set up three different “companies” and take the company through one entrepreneurial cycle. It was a full fledged realistic game played with real products and real customers (Only the money — BizBucks —  was notional and printed on the back old cardboard )

In “playing” the whole cycle, some of the things the 10-14 year olds did:

  • Formed and named their company. Decided what business they wanted to be in. It turned out two companies wanted to make key chains and the third made greeting cards. Deciding the business seemed to be a fun thing – it was not until much later that the concept and impact of “market competition” really hit them.
  • Wrote resumes and convinced each other why each was the best for a particular job. And there were six important jobs in each team – President, and the VPs of Finance, Marketing and Sales, Design and Manufacturing / operations.
  • Raising money for their business venture. Smart pitches were made to VCs (the facilitators) who invested BizBucks (BB) in the companies based on the quality of the presentations they made.
  • Designed and prototyped their products. Estimated which designs were feasible, how much materials they would need and what effort it would require.
  • Raised additional BB by taking loans (at a 10% interest) or approaching the VCs again.
  • Creating marketing mateials, setting up a stall and getting ready a sales pitch.
  • Selling their goods to real customers armed with BB (parents and other well wishers who had been coopted into the game!)
  • And then balancing out the accounts. This was an on-going process, though. The VPs of finance had never been this involved with simple addition and subtraction!
  •  And finally, the companies were valued based on their profits and cash on hand.

To say the experience was a tremendous learning would be an understatement. It was monumental both for the students and the facilitators.

In fact, we are now so convinced about the design of this program (which we prototyped for the first time in *e x p a n d *) that we plan to offer it as a standalone 15 hour workshop during the summer. Watch this space for more information and pictures!