No More “Monopoly” on Business Games

An Exclusive Interview with the Creators of UPSTART

Have you ever dreamed of creating and selling your own game? An entrepreneur with gaming experience, Richard “D-cal” Dacalos, fell into a depression after 3 years of running a small business.

- What's more fun than starting a business? Playing a game about it. -

– What’s more fun than starting a business? Playing a game about starting your own business. –

D-cal had learned so much in those 3 years, yet he was beyond frustrated! Locking himself away in a room for a week, he cut paper scraps, scribbled ideas, and re-purposed LEGO bricks, transforming his pain into an exciting business-themed board game.

This week I want to share an exclusive interview with D-cal and his business partner Ina Flores.

What is UPSTART?

D-CAL: UPSTART is a board game that simulates the UPs and DOWNs of business. It allows players to get personal insights on their mindsets, decision making and habits when starting and sustaining a business.

How long have you wanted to create a game?

D-CAL: Gaming has always been a huge part of my life. But the funny thing is that I don’t think I ever aspired to create a game. Creating UPSTART was a pleasant surprise in my life. A personal project that turned into something I wanted to share with the world.

- Ask for this FREE frameable! -

– Ask for this FREE frameable! –

What was your first job?

D-CAL: I was a freelance writer. Straight out of college I wanted to work and get some experience. I had a laptop so while I was waiting for job interviews I used the extra time to get some freelance writing gigs.

Share a memory of a success that was meaningful to you?

D-CAL: One of the most meaningful successes I’ve had was when I organized a collaboration festival. It brought 300 change-makers from around the world together in one place to create a better future. We were a small team and to pull it off really took a lot of collaboration.

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That’s Great! What about a failure that you learned from?

D-CAL: One of my first ventures, an online magazine to help support independent artists, was a failure I learned a lot from. I learned how to be patient with learning, testing and feedback. Something I took to heart with Upstart. We did two years of testing to get where we are with the game.

Do you have any experience building with LEGO?

D-CAL: LEGO consumed my time growing up. I remember building elaborate stories and worlds by combining sets and mixing blocks.

- D-cal used LEGO tokens on his first version of UPSTART. -

– D-cal used LEGO tokens on his first version of UPSTART. –

One of the first versions of UPSTART used LEGO as trackers and pieces. It was an easy choice because I had a bunch of LEGO sets still around the house.

Ina, you did a great job with the UPSTART design. What is your background?

INA: I have a degree in Landscape Architecture and was a practicing landscape architect for a few years after I graduated from college. I’ve always dabbled in graphic design. Today I work as a brand and marketing strategist in my day job.

What is your current role in the business?

INA: For UPSTART, I do most if not all of the branding and marketing stuff as well as the graphic design work, but since we are a very lean team, our roles pretty much extend to everything that needs to get done within a specific timeline.

I’m really excited about the Kickstarter Edition. We’ll be doing a few considerable tweaks to the board game based on feedback we’ve gotten over the past year, and from game sessions we’ll be doing in the U.S. until the end of this Kickstarter campaign. We really do value the feedback of our community, and we’re always looking out for ways to make the game better for them.

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D-cal, What will you be doing over the course of your Kickstarter campaign?

D-CAL: Aside from interacting with our online community, I’m traveling across the Americas to share, meet and interact with fellow entrepreneurs, gamers and creators. We even have a bunch of game nights so people can directly experience the game before we ship it out to the world.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be in Cuba, Toronto, Montreal, Maine, Boston, Lancaster and New York.

I would love to meet the community. People in those cities can reach me through Kickstarter or our Facebook page.

Show your support! Leave an encouraging comment for D-cal and Ina! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

The Journey Continues

The entrepreneurial journey for D-cal and Ina keeps on going. They have no guarantees their game will be funded, but they are certain to press forward no matter what. I can think of no better way to experience the ups and downs of business than in a game, but I’m told there are only a few days left to pre-order.

Question: Curious how UPSTART can help you in your business? Ask D-cal and Ina today only in the comment box below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Richard Dacalos

    Thanks Jon for sharing our story! 🙂

    You do such amazing work. More power! And more LEGO!

    • My pleasure – the world needs more entrepreneurs that know how to work and build a business.

      More LEGO = More power.