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Monopoly gives way to upstart entrepreneurs

Alain Berger shows off his Start'Up board game swissinfo.ch

Budding megalomaniac entrepreneurs are in for a treat this Christmas: a board game which allows your business to conquer the world.

This content was published on December 15, 2001 - 10:31

Imagine a cross between Monopoly and Risk, and you are half way to understanding the concept of Start'Up. However, this is a game in its own right, and innovative enough to have won a silver medal at this year's Geneva international Inventions Fair.

The aim of the game is simple - create your own company, devise a business strategy, expand, fight off the competition and become something akin to the new Bill Gates.

The brainchild of Alain Berger from Geneva, Start'Up is a snapshot of the world of business today, where dynamic and ambitious small companies compete in a globalised economy.

"The idea is that you start from nothing, and by the end, you will have a multinational," Berger told swissinfo. But he insists you do not have to be a budding captain of industry: "The economic concepts in the game are quite simple."

Three-year project

It took Berger three years to create Start'Up, the last of which Berger gave up work so that he could devote all his energies to his project.

Currently only available in French, it is on sale in a number of toyshops in the Geneva area, retailing at just under SFr50 ($30). An English version is due to come out next year.

But, perhaps ironically, Berger says he'll need the help of a larger company for his game to conquer the world: "The hard part is getting your game marketed and distributed," he points out.

Berger describes his creation as a game of strategy, tactics and insight. The competitors have to decide whether to establish firms in certain parts of the world so as to compete directly with business rivals, or whether to set up shop in countries that no one covets.

When acquiring companies, players have to judge exactly the right amount to pay by guessing how much competitors think a firm is worth. Bluff is an essential skill, although cheating is out.

Real world simulation

"The game is a simulation of the real world, so there are certain rules you have to follow," Berger says.

And just as in the real world external factors can affect one's company. In Start'Up, recessions, inflation, industrial action and even earthquakes can throw a spanner into the entrepreneurial works.

Berger says his game is suitable for anyone of ten years and older. So in 20 years, will there be a fabulously successful entrepreneur, who owes his multinational empire to the skills he learnt playing Start'Up? "That would be nice," says Berger.

The game is revolutionary in other ways. Gone is the traditional cardboard box. Start'Up comes in a slim plastic case, which not only makes it more compact, but also reduces shipping costs.

by Roy Probert

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