The University of Virginia's Darden School of Business has launched a crowdfunding campaign to improve the user interface of a new educational game called BizHero. Like fantasy football or baseball, BizHero is a fantasy business management contest that puts future leaders in the shoes of CEOs.
"Instead of managing a group of players, you're managing a group of executives," said Darden Digital Curriculum Manager Fred Telegdy, in a video created for the crowdfunding campaign.
He and Darden professor Bidhan Parmar co-created BizHero to respond to a need echoed by many executives in the business field.
"When we talked to business leaders, we heard that they need people who are able to frame problems that are not structured for them already," Parmar said.
Parmar and colleagues developed BizHero to give students and business leaders the chance to test their hypotheses, learn to frame problems and diagnose changing situations.
"These activities simulate running a business," Parmar said.
Siew Han Sim, a rising second-year student at Darden, said success in the game does not focus on short-term, bottom-line performance. "It's about more than just making profits," he said. "You have to take care of the business."
Business functions in areas such as operations, human resources and marketing are linked throughout the game, according to Telegdy. Solving problems will require players to look across their organizations. "It's not going to be one lever you can pull to spend a lot of money and fix everything," he said.
Through the fundraising campaign, Darden hopes to raise $15,000. According to Parmar, BizHero was tested in a pilot study among a small group of Darden students and faculty. The consensus was that the game's approach was spot on.
"The good thing about the game is it allows you to investigate these different issues and maybe make a few mistakes in how you solve them," Telegdy said. He adds that it's better to make mistakes in a simulated environment instead of in the real world, where mishaps can be costly.
The 45-day fundraising campaign ends Sept. 9, as part of the University's first crowdfunding initiative. Led by U.Va. Innovation, the USEED at U.Va. site lets the public contribute to early-stage research development philanthropically.
BizHero is the third of 10 faculty translational research projects to be featured on USEED at U.Va., which is in the midst of a six-month pilot run that will conclude in November.
There are multiple levels of giving, with donor rewards attached to the highest donation amounts. Gifts are tax-deductible. As of Aug. 12, the BizHero campaign had raised $2,600.