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Start-Up entrepreneur board game

So you want to be an entrepreneur?

You’ve honed your pitch. Seen every episode of Shark Tank. Read every word of Steve Jobs’ biography. 

What do you do next? 

If you’re a young person in New Zealand’s capital there’s finally an answer to that question. 

A team of final-year students from Wellington’s Victoria University Business School has won the ThinkPlace Prize for Best Entrepreneurship System Map for their new game ‘Start Up’. 

What’s that? 

Start Up takes a gamification approach to mapping the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Wellington – a city with a strong track record in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Presenting the award to the team behind the game, ThinkPlace New Zealand Co-founding Partner Jim Scully said the students were continuing a proud tradition. 

“When you think about it, some of New Zealand’s biggest international success stories were founded here in Wellington,” he said.  

“Whether it’s (special effects studio) WETA, (auction website) TradeMe, Xero or Icebreaker they all have emerged out of the streets and cafés around this city.” 

ThinkPlace New Zealand team with the winners from the Victoria University Business School
Jim and Cassandra from our New Zealand studio with prize-winners of the Best Entrepreneurship System Map from the Victoria University Business School for their new game ‘Start Up’

The challenge 

Students at the Business School received a guest lecture from ThinkPlace designers Scully and Cassandra Ong as part of a new entrepreneurship curriculum.  

‘’We enjoyed so much interacting with the students and showing them some of the tools and techniques we use every day at ThinkPlace,” Ong says. 

“We’ve partnered with the university’s design school before, and it was great to see the business school encouraging students to design for the end users.  

With this project, we were interested in how the strengths from the business school and design school could be brought together.  

Because that’s what’s happening increasingly in the real world we work in, bringing a design-led approach to tackling complex business and organisational challenges.” 

Ong says the students found design thinking ideas such as rapid prototyping and human-centred approaches to be fascinating.  

“We had them thinking about personas to try and understand who the different users of their ecosystem might be,” she says. “You could see that lightbulb moment when they understood that not everyone goes through the system in the same way.” 

How the game works 

Roll the dice, choose your entrepreneur persona and you are on your way. The game simulates the experience of creating, developing and leading a start-up. 

Start-Up Board Game

It allows users to travel through Wellington’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, stopping at real-world locations across the city and engaging with local organisations. 

Scully says Wellington’s unique geography as a dense, walkable city has been a factor in its success as an entrepreneurial incubator. “You can be meeting in one café with your lawyer, walk for five minutes across town to meet with a potential investor, stop by at the university for some R&D and be back at your headquarters by lunchtime,” he says. 

“There is just a great spirit of creativity and collaboration in this city.” 

The game was created as part of a competition to create the best visualisation of the city’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. 

That approach, mapping and understanding a complex system, is a critical part of the ThinkPlace method for tackling complex challenges. It’s the approach that ThinkPlace New Zealand approaches to problems as diverse as x, y and z. 

“If you want to have impact and make change in the world, it is critical to zoom up and see the ecosystem that you are impacting, then visualise how you’ll go about changing it” Scully says. 

 “The Start-Up game will enable young people studying business to do this from the point of view of a real entrepreneur.” 


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Cassandra Patel

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