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 us Founder is more than just a game. Strategy games involve decision-making, and we thought that we could use this idea to not just help people have fun but also help improve their decision-making skills. Alex has been a college professor for years. As a result, we 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 we first started talking about the game, we wanted to make sure that the concept of talent management would be the central theme – this was because we thought people were the centerpiece of successful companies. So we figured why not make them the centerpiece of our 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?
We are Alex and Gorti, a couple of guys in Austin Texas, who one day decided to ditch successful corporate careers because we wanted to start a new company. Alex has done multiple start-ups in the past, and teaches Entrepreneurship & Marketing at UT, Austin. Gorti is a technology geek, and has spent years working on pretty much every aspect of technology innovation, from pure research to delivery of large systems. We are both passionate about entrepreneurship and innovation, and this game is our first attempt to bring a solution to market that helps budding entrepreneurs. Our testers think this game is super cool, challenging, yet fun and different every time you play it. If you really want to know more about us than this, check out our LinkedIn profiles here:
Founder and education - another reason you should care...
Apart from being a really fun strategy game, we believe that Founder addresses an important need today. Today's younger generation learns best by playing games. We 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.
In our GIV Academy (our programs that promote entrepreneurship in today's youth), Founder serves as an important tool to help stimulate learning. Kids of all ages enjoy playing the game. At the same time, they are developing general business and entrepreneurship skills that they carry with them for the rest of their lives.
We 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! We’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)
- MANAGE TALENT
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.
We 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.
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.
What’s in the box?
The game box will have high quality components and an elegant, streamlined, modern graphic design. There will be 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:
(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
(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’s Circle Achievements
All pledges at Manager level and above will receive an autographed copy of the Founder board game in addition to the exclusive benefits listed below.
With your help we can attain all of our Founder's Circle Achievements and give our community tons of great upgrades!
Wood Pieces ($10K) – we can afford to upgrade all resource cubes, markers and player pieces from plastic to wood
Metal Pieces ($15K) – we can afford to upgrade all resource cubes, markers and player pieces from wood to metal
Upgraded Player Cards ($20K) – we can afford to upgrade all factory, product and customer cards to premium stock
3D Building Markers ($25K) – we will upgrade to custom designed 3D player building markers to replace our basic metal markers
Founder Wall of Fame ($30K) – the back of the main game board will include the names of all supporters commemorating the success of the Kickstarter - this will be in addition to our virtual Wall of Fame
Founder Scenario Book ($50K) – your continued support will allow us to build a game add-on with 12 alternative game-play and setup scenarios to even further enhance replayability
Founder Innovation Expansion ($75K) – pledges will support the completion of a planned game expansion pack that introduces an exciting new twist into game play - product innovation
Founder Community ($100K) – we can afford to deploy an online community that will allow Founder players to share their own game-play and setup scenarios with others
Fortune 500 Upgrades
Founder Online Expansion ($150K) – our project will be moved online and you will also be able to play the standard Founder game virtually with up to 5 others
Virtual Founder Base Edition ($300K) – all supporters will be able to bring their Founder skill to a massively scalable virtual world
Virtual Founder Full Edition ($500K) – the amount pledged will help us build all planned features of the Founder virtual online world, which significantly enhances playability by allowing asynchronous, distributed play in private groups or with an online community
Social Media Upgrades
Even if you can't fund us you can still help us by spreading the word – show us the love by liking and/or sharing this Kickstarter with your friends on Facebook and Instagram or followers on Twitter. You're not just helping a couple of guys who quit their day jobs to pursue their dream - you'll also be helping us support the entrepreneurial dream!
If we are able to achieve the Fortune 500 upgrade stretch goals, our Facebook page will also be the forum through which our pledgers will provide us with their creative input into features to be included on Virtual Founder and Founder Online.
We’re interested in finding out just how many people out there are smarter than their boss. Tell us or show us by using #smarterthanmyboss on any social media site to tell your story.
How it all started
About 12 months ago, like so many others before us, a friend and I decided we would try and make a game. We were both avid gamers – from Diplomacy to Power Grid, Alhambra, Settlers, and Carcassonne – you name it. If it was a strategy game, we were all in.
Over a series of meetings, we had made some decent progress on what we wanted our game to center on, but frankly we were starting to lose momentum. Then another friend got involved – he was most definitely NOT a gamer. The more he participated in our meetings, the more our whole approach to game design started to change. We began applying a variety of analytical techniques to our game design and things became really interesting very quickly – so much so that the non-gamer and I did something that most of our peers still think of as crazy. We quit our ‘cushy’ corporate jobs and decided we were going to start a company to enable entrepreneurship and innovation.
The game is the most central piece of our mission. Our initial goal set derived purely from personal experience. We had a theme - entrepreneurship. We wanted the game to be fun – for us that meant strategy, interpersonal negotiations and interactions minimizing the element of chance. Our game needed to be something we would want to play over and over again. We wanted the game to have strategic depth – the kind of complex decision making and allowance for varying successful strategies that would feed all the post-game discussion that we as gamers loved. We also wanted flexibility – the ability for players to change strategy mid-stream and be able to band together to stop front-runners. Finally, we wanted to be able to play the game beginning at different start points to support scenarios as another way to keep the game fresh.
We had many, many iterations of game testing. And the end result is a first game that we are very proud of and excited to bring to market. As for us and our test groups, Founder has become a regular part of our game rotation.
This Kickstarter project will be about pushing our dream across the finish line. Every person that pledges to this project will allow us to complete the graphic design of the game and bring a finished product to market. Thanks in advance for your support and encouragement – we’re confident you’ll love what you see.
Why we need you and what your pledge will go towardWe can’t do this without you. We are trying to bring a game to market that is fun, stands the test of time and that as an added bonus helps develop good business and decision-making skills. Your pledge will help pay for us to finish the final graphic design of the game and send it off to manufacturing. If we are able to achieve our stretch goals, pledges will also help bring expansion packs to market, improve the quality of the game components and even introduce online versions of the game!
As an added bonus, for those supporters that pledge at a Director level or above, your name will be immortalized by being put on the Wall of Fame on the back of the main game board (if we achieve this stretch goal). Most importantly, your backing is helping us fulfill our dream of bringing a sophisticated strategy game for all ages and gamer types to market. Thank you for your support!
Risks and challenges
The good news is that we have a ton of experience managing both extremely large-scale, complex projects as well as product development on shoe-string budgets at start-ups. And we’ve done all of these things with a lot of success throughout our careers. Gorti spent a long time at a Fortune 50 company running large scale projects and implementing new products successfully. Alex is a professor of entrepreneurship and has started 5 companies over the course of his career.
The other thing we’ve got going for us is that we’re totally vested in the success of this Kickstarter and game. This isn’t a side project for either of us. We both quit really good corporate jobs to pursue the development of this game and our start-up – and all of our progress so far has been self-funded. So we’ve got a lot of skin in the game so to speak.
In a few words, we know how to deliver on our promises and we’ve got all the incentive in the world to do so for everyone that has pledged on this Kickstarter.
All this being said, nothing is ever risk-free. We aren’t sure how long it will take to get the final graphic design done to the high level of quality that we want in our finished product. And we aren’t sure if we’ll get the manufacturing right the first time around. We’re not going to release a product until we are absolutely thrilled with how it looks, feels, and plays. We expect there to be unpredicted SNAFUs – that’s part of running any business or making anything from scratch. And we still need to fully flesh out some of the stretch goal items (although we’ve got a really good start on all of them). But we feel confident we have the ability to overcome anything fate or chance throws our way and deliver for you, our backers. We know we have the desire and experience to make sure this project will be a success.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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