Test Drive: Business make-believe

Written by Rebecca Gardiner

In TV’s The Apprentice, every week Donald Trump asks contestants to start a business and make it a success, usually within a day. GoVenture: Live the life of an Entrepreneur does the same sort of thing. Only this computer simulation never barks the words, “You’re fired.”

One of a series of business simulations produced by Halifax-based MediaSpark Inc., GoVenture: Entrepreneur uses algorithms derived from business theory to determine the outcomes of a player’s many management decisions. Using the program is easy. Achieving simulated success, however, is not.

GoVenture: Entrepreneur allows you to start a business from scratch or take the helm of an existing business. Either way, you must submit a personal profile that includes such variables as your marital status. Tackle your own startup, and you’re also required to write a business plan (although the software doesn’t evaluate the quality of your plan.)

I chose to pay $29,000 for a 25% stake in Eat-O-Rama Inc., a fast-food restaurant in a residential neighborhood. I started by checking my inventory; then I considered the cost of my supplies and set my prices. So, for instance, I sold 70ÀšÃ‚¢ worth of vegetables as a $2.50 salad. I hired three staff and opened up shop.

GoVenture: Live the life of an Entrepreneur
is available at for $299 (business license) or $69 (individual / home license)

Unfortunately, salad was such a hot seller that I went through all 62 heads of lettuce on hand and ran out of beverages before my first day was over. I ordered more, but it took another day to arrive — by which time I was out of fries and burger buns. The “customers lost” tally, displayed on the roof of my virtual restaurant, mounted. I stayed late a few nights trying to fix my problems, but, being married with two kids, it upped my stress level. (Get too stressed and you’re forced to take time off.) Within a week I had lost so much money ($47,461.94, to be exact) that I closed my business after an unsuccessful attempt to sell it.

Although it’s surprisingly realistic, GoVenture: Entrepreneur is still too basic for veteran CEOs. However, it could be a valuable learning aid for would-be business owners or employees who need to brush up on business fundamentals. It could even have helped some of The Donald’s wannabe apprentices.

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