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  • 1.  Recommendations for a simulation

    Posted 11-06-2022 19:19

    I am looking for a basic business simulation to use with potential student entrepreneurs in majors outside the business school. I want them to get experience "playing at business" to get a feel for making decisions and seeing the consequences. In particular, I've found that this is a great way to help students get a feel for how money moves through a business, and from that get a gut-level understanding of the basics of accounting (this is crucial). We've used BizCafe from Interpretive Solutions. It's strengths are that the number of decisions to get students started are relatively few. Everything gets reflected in the financials and supporting dashboards so that decision-to-dollars link is very evident. The weakness is the cost. Is there a free (ideally online) business simulation any of you might recommend?


    Desiderata (but in no way deal breakers) would include being able to play against the computer or one another, ability for a faculty member to see how students are performing, and the ability for students to easily report out their results (although the trusty old screen grab always works).


    I've looked at the MIT Cleanstart simulation but it is more complex than BizCafe, probably too much so for my intended audience. Thanks in advance. Please feel free to respond to the list or directly to me at jerome.katz@slu.edu.




    Jerome A. Katz | Robert H. Brockhaus Chair of Entrepreneurship | Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business, Saint Louis University, 314-302-0641 (cell/text)  |  jerome.katz@slu.edu,  http://eweb.slu.edu



  • 2.  RE: Recommendations for a simulation

    Posted 11-07-2022 18:25
    Hi Jerry, 

    I am an inventor of a game that might me of your interest. Here is the description, and we can chat further independent of this chat. Best regards, 


    Basics of BiggieBills

    In an academic environment, BiggieBills as a gamified training tool is especially valuable when team members are in different locations or in the same location. BiggieBills serves the purpose of team-building through gameplay in an engaging and long-lasting way with the basics of business tools. At the individual level, BiggieBills facilitates strategic thinking and decision-making among team members. Similarly, BiggieBills provides a gamified and absorbing learning experience that introduces strategy management and entrepreneurship concepts and the value of teamwork in both online and in-person courses.

    BiggieBills allows for a dynamic real-time gaming experience for the participants. It provides instant feedback and enables players to create real-time counter-offensive moves.  The core learning is derived from the debriefing process conducted by the game's moderator. The debrief is customized to suit the needs of the class teacher (in the academic setting) or an organization (in a corporate training setting).  BiggieBills is a patented, interactive, dynamic strategic thinking training tool designed and delivered through a game.  The inventor of BiggieBills, Dr. Joshi,  worked on an NSF grant and demonstrated the benefits of gamification in learning from complex situations. This is a Unique Patented Training Tool for players to improve their strategic thinking and team-building skills. BiggieBills is played among 15 to 48 individuals (a minimum of 3 teams and a maximum of 8 teams). Each team takes on the role of an established business, trying to gain the top position over the competitors. The game lasts for about two and a half hours, and the game is followed by a debrief that can be customized based on the topic of interest and time available to the instructor.  more details at https://biggiebills.com/, please contact: mahesh@biggiebills.com for further details.

    Maheshkumar Joshi
    George Mason University
    Fairfax VA
    (301) 399-7706

  • 3.  RE: Recommendations for a simulation

    Posted 11-19-2022 17:42

    I want to thank those members of the list - Vyas Sreenivas, Jeremy Peters,  Frances Chang, Maheshkumar Joshi, and Jung Kwon - who responded to my request for recommendations of free entrepreneurship simulations which might work with non-business majors to learn the fundamentals of business and the basics of accounting. I thought I would provide the list with the results.


    Desiderata: I was looking for a free simulation that would let students experience the process of decision-making in a business setting and see the results of their decision-making reflected in the performance of the business. If these results used basic financial and accounting methods, that would be ideal, but the simulation should be understandable to someone who comes into it with no prior knowledge of accounting or finance. At a minimum, the participant should be able to play the simulation solo (i.e. against the computer or simulation). If there were ways to play against others, that would be a plus. If the simulation had an overview mode where the faculty member could see the results, that too would be a plus. As I got into the simulations, two other elements became more important: (1) the availability of instructions and explanatory material to help novice players know what to do, when and how to do it, and what to make of the results, and (2) now many decisions are players expected to make, esp. as they get started.


    To give you some context, I have used Interactive's BizCafe in the past and have been well-pleased with it, but it is relatively costly and complex for the basic goals of this learning exercise. So based on my own research and the suggestions of members of the discussion list here is what I found:

    Free Simulations With Financial Components 

    MIT CleanStart - https://mitsloan.mit.edu/teaching-resources-library/cleanstart-simulating-a-clean-energy-startup - (free, browser based). This is a complex simulation which can be done as individuals, teams or classes. It considers a startup clean-tech company. Key decision variables include pricing, headcount, financing and compensation. Faculty can make a tremendous number of setting adjustments. Students will get a full set of financials. This simulation is more complex to set-up and run than BizCafe (by far), but once set up the way you like, it could be quite fast and simple to use. Running the simulation will require 60-90 minutes the first time, but I believe it could be handled in 15-minute blocks after that. Instructions are largely via videos, there is little written on running the simulation although the simulation is built on a series of research papers noted in the videos and powerpoints.


    Singleton Foundation Venture Valley - https://venturevalleygame.com/ - (free, browser based and phone app). This is a basic build-your-startup and -empire game with solo and multiplayer models. Players progress through a sequence of businesses as they build their finances. Decisions include location, wages, price, quality, R&D, marketing, and strategy (this through cards you select and encounter). Financials include P&L and cash balances. Typically takes less than one hour. There are classroom resources available at https://discoverventurevalley.com/classroom-resources. Other instructions are in-game. Intended for grades 6-12, can work with undergrads who are not familiar with business.


    Cool Math Games Coffee Shop - https://www.coolmathgames.com/0-coffee-shop - (free, browser based). A very basic free alternative to BizCafe. Decisions include ingredients (cups, coffee, milk, sugar) , recipe, and price (which should be tied to temperature). Very fast paced, can be done in 15-30 minutes. Also very linear, the goal here is to maximize income by matching the recipe to customer desires and the price to what the market will tolerate and the temperature makes possible (hot coffee is worth more on colder days). No financials other than overall sales. Reputation shown but has limited impact on outcomes. No documentation. Solo play only. More useful for teaching customer focus and very basic business dynamics rather than financials. The same game in a different content is Cool Math's Lemonade Stand (https://www.coolmathgames.com/0-lemonade-stand).  


    Cool Math's Idle Startup Tycoon - https://www.coolmathgames.com/0-idle-startup-tycoon - (free, browser based). Like Venture Valley, this game has you move through a progression of businesses. But the financials here are much more basic than Venture Valley, more along the lines of Cool Math's Coffee Shop, in other words very minimal financial information. Can be played in 15-60 minutes depending on how many levels you want students to try. Levels build in a linear way. Any information is included in-game, and games are played solo only. There is no instructor version. To find other Cool Math business games, look at https://www.coolmathgames.com/1-business-games.


    Interesting Free Simulations for Non-Financial Entrepreneurial Lessons


    BDC (Business Development Canada) Intellectual Property Simulation - https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/entrepreneur-toolkit/business-assessments/intellectual-property-simulation - (free, browser based). This is a linear simulation where you hear about the ideas of two entrepreneurs and make recommendations about the kinds of intellectual properties their businesses possess and how they might protect it. Players are taken through a set of questions and then asked to recommend an IP strategy. Feedback is given on the choices. All materials are in-game. It is a solo simulation, with nothing for faculty to set up. Can be completed in 15-30 minutes.


    Marketplace Simulations Product Design Simulation - https://www.marketplace-simulation.com/microsimulations/ - (free, browser based). This is a product design simulation based on the Quality Function Deployment (QFD) model. Very linear, video-driven simulation. Students connect customer benefits to specific design features which might deliver or decrease the benefit. Feedback is given on choices. Can be completed in 15-30 minutes. There are no financial elements to the simulation. (This microsimulation is free to all, others are $7 each). This is a solo simulation, and there is no additional materials or instructor materials.


    Wharton BlueSky Ventures: The Entrepreneurial Mindset - https://interactive.wharton.upenn.edu/individual-experiences/bluesky-ventures-the-entrepreneurship-mindset/ - (free, browser based). This is a simulation for evaluating VC/angel investments in startups, rather than making decisions about running a startup. There is no set-up for faculty or faculty management process. It can only be played by individuals and takes about 60-90 minutes. This is a very linear simulation where students are walked through the evaluation process and make judgements about strengths and weaknesses of prospective companies. If you are trying to teach the due diligence or investment process (e.g. evaluating investments), this is a uniquely useful simulation. Instructions are on the website and there are instructor materials mentioned but as of November 2022 not on the site.


    If I have missed any other free business simulations (esp. those with financial components), please respond to the list or contact me personally at jerome.katz@slu.edu. Thanks! 



    Jerome A. Katz | Robert H. Brockhaus Chair of Entrepreneurship | Richard A. Chaifetz School of Business, Saint Louis University, 314-302-0641 (cell/text)  |  jerome.katz@slu.edu,  http://eweb.slu.edu



    Jerome Katz
    Brockhaus Chair in Entrepreneurship
    Saint Louis University

  • 4.  RE: Recommendations for a simulation

    Posted 11-20-2022 15:16
    Thank you so much.
    This is super helpful!

    Taewoo Kim
    Assistant Professor
    University of Louisiana Monroe
    Sterlington LA

  • 5.  RE: Recommendations for a simulation

    Posted 11-21-2022 09:52
    Once again, Jerry Katz is helping our field, much appreciated! Thank you.
    Dianne Welsh

    Dianne Welsh
    Distinguished Professor
    Univ. of North Carolina - Greensboro
    Greensboro NC
    (336) 256-8507