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We live in a new era — the golden age of entrepreneurship. With the advent of things like cloud computing, big data and lean methodologies, businesses that 10 years ago would have cost millions of dollars to launch can be started for thousands. I speak from direct experience. It’s incredible. In fact, it’s exhilarating.

When I was a kid, my friends’ entrepreneurial aspirations amounted to starting a lemonade stand in the neighborhood. If we could make a few bucks on a hot summer day, we were thrilled. Amazingly, not much has changed in the last 30 years. Whether it’s a bake sale, Girl Scout cookies or lemonade stand, most kids are restricted to the same entrepreneurial ventures of three decades ago.

But today, they are primarily being constrained for the wrong reasons. Stories abound of teenagers (or sometimes even younger kids) who build apps and turn them into multi-million dollar companies. So what’s the problem? In some cases, parents lack the confidence or knowledge to help their children think bigger. In other cases, it is the kids who don’t have a way to acquire the necessary skills. Particularly at a kindergarten to eighth grade level, start-up skills are hard to come by.

I had an amazing professor in graduate school who taught me that there were blank checks worth a million dollars lying everywhere. The only thing that differentiated entrepreneurs from others was that entrepreneurs had the vision to see the checks, the courage to pick one up, and the perseverance to take it to the bank and deposit it.

We owe it to all aspiring entrepreneurs to give them the vision to see the checks. Now more than ever it is possible for them to deposit their checks if they have the courage to pick them up. In a nutshell, this was the genesis for my game Founder. It’s effective because it offers players the opportunity to simultaneously learn and apply. From hiring and firing to designing and negotiating, players experience real business decisions that allow them to develop the skills and confidence to persevere. Founder stands on its own as a game that builds business skills. But I’ve also used it successfully in classroom and corporate training environments to develop key decision-making skills.

If you’re interested in exploring Founder, read on. This is straight from the successful Kickstarter campaign used to launch the game a few years ago. Or if you think you’d like to experience Founder in a home or business environment, contact me.


Founder Game Box
Founder Game Box

Give me the high level

Let’s face it – it’s happened to all of us at some point in some size, shape or form. “That was the dumbest decision ever!” “What was my boss thinking?” “Does management really think we’re that stupid?” The words that pop into mind might be a little different but the theme remains the same. We think we can do better. No, we know it. Be a better manager. A better CEO. A better executive. That’s the first main reason Founder came about. But is it really that easy? We wanted to give our game players the chance to find out.

But to me Founder is more than just a game. Strategy games involve decision-making, and I thought that I could use this idea to not just help people have fun but also help improve their decision-making skills. I’ve been a college professor for years. As a result, I would love to also see our game used in a teaching setting to help students learn by analyzing simulated situations and fixing problems.

So how does Founder satisfy both of those goals? It’s a pretty simple game play construct. When I first started talking about the game, I wanted to make sure that the concept of talent management would be the central theme – this was because I thought people were the centerpiece of successful companies. So I figured why not make them the centerpiece of the game as well?

Over the course of the game you get to make decisions around how many and what kind of employees you want to hire. Employees can help you design cooler products, manufacture more efficiently or increase your customer base. But you have to be careful to hire a balanced workforce, promote at the right times, and have the right talent to achieve your goals. Treat your employees fairly and they will reward you. But a failure to plan could result in disaster – layoffs, lost customers, or worse still – bankruptcy. It’s always smart to maintain good relationships with other companies to ensure that when you need to partner with them to trade resources you’ve made friends not enemies. If you’re able to prove that you can think like a Founder, then success will ultimately be yours – you will grow your company to be the largest.

Who are you anyway?

Alex with some of his favorite games
Alex with some of his favorite games

I am both passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation, and this game is my first attempt to bring a solution to market that helps budding entrepreneurs.


Founder and education – another reason you should care…

Apart from being a really fun strategy game, I believe that Founder addresses an important need today.  Today’s younger generation learns best by playing games.  I have a lot of experience teaching kids ages 10-24 and have found that by far they learn best when they are having fun and, just as importantly, are given the opportunity to immediately apply and reinforce concepts they are learning about.

I believe that we are truly entering the golden era of entrepreneurship and would love to see Founder help develop the passion and skill set required for start-up success in our youth.

I’m a detail person – spell it out for me…

If you’re someone that likes to really dig into the details, then this is the section for you!  I’ll walk you through a more detailed description of Founder game play.  Don’t care?  Then skip ahead!

Founder is played across 5 turns, and each turn consists of a number phases.  The main phases of a turn are:

  • INNOVATE (Expansion Pack Stretch Goal)
  • SELL

The illustration below gives you a breakdown of the actions that make up each phase in a turn.

You win the game if your corporation has the highest market cap at the end of the final turn of play.  This is determined by your ability to generate profits and accumulate and develop employee talent over the course of the game.

I talked about this briefly above, but one of the central themes in Founder relates to a player’s ability to acquire, develop, manage, and compensate employee talent.  This aptitude is measured in game through the accumulation of talent points (TPs).  R&D TPs allow players to design new products.  Manufacturing TPs allow for the production of goods at higher volumes and better margins.  Finally, Sales TPs allow players to acquire and service customers, thereby creating demand for their products.  Over the course of a game, players will have to make difficult decisions around how many employees to recruit, where in their organization to deploy them, when to promote them, and how to compensate them.  The more senior an employee, the more TPs they generate, but the more they cost.  A well-conceived talent management strategy will ensure company growth, a strong market cap, and ultimately success in the game.

Founder Main Game Board
Founder Main Game Board

A turn in Founder has decisions and strategies to satisfy every gamer personality type.  Social gamers love the interactive aspect of resource trading and auctions.  Pure strategists enjoy the complex decisions around product development, manufacturing, demand generation and recruiting.  And the gamblers and ‘rule-breakers’ in the crowd love the employee compensation secret bonuses.  In Founder, there is truly something for everyone.  And only the well-balanced gamer will ever be able to win consistently.

Founder Player Board
Founder Player Board

What’s in the box?

The game box has high quality components and an elegant, streamlined, modern graphic design.  There are enough pieces to support up to a 6 player game.  Here is a picture of all of the items that will be in the game box along with an inventory list:

Founder - What's in the box
Founder – What’s in the box

(6) Color-Coded Player Boards

(1) Main Game Board

(6) Color-Coded Outsourced Factory Cards and Product Cards

(6) sets of (3) Color-Coded Player Markers

Product, Customer and Factory Cards
Product, Customer and Factory Cards

(20) Factory Cards

(20) Product Cards

(30) Customer Cards

(1) Black Turn Marker

(4) sets of (50) Color-Coded Resource Cubes (Blue, Brown, Red, Yellow)

(3) sets of (80) Color-Coded Employee Cubes (White, Orange, Green)

Money in multiple denominations

Founder Money
Founder Money