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CleanStart: A Startup Simulation to Play and Learn From

Did you ever wonder if you could manage a startup? Do you possess an entrepreneurial spirit, but in a rather playful way? “No risk, no fun” is out. The MIT Sloan School of Management is offering you the chance to try your luck managing a clean energy startup in their simulation CleanStart.

The simulation could be considered a game but it lacks traditional elements of gameplay mechanics. It’s a bit more theoretic in how it works. It mostly works with numbers and calculations, but that’s fine, I still found it to be entertaining and highly interesting.

It involves elements of managing growth, human resources, and economic aspects, like pulling funding by a VC or running an IPO. Should you have more engineers or more salespeople? What will you offer them to stay motivated? How to attract new staff? What are your goals with your company and what will be the actual strategy to achieve your goals?

I spent quite some time with this startup simulation and was running a steadily growing company for decades and then suddenly it was very quickly all over within one or two months time (game time). Did I do something wrong? Did I miss to spot a risk and did not mitigate it in time?


If you want to remain successful you need to stay on top of your management information and game reports. Every “round” in the game consumes one month within the game calendar. You might sail smoothly for years and then suddenly it’s all over, just like it was the case in my playthrough. Just like in the real startup world, I suppose. If you don’t focus on what you do, you will fall.

It would be unfair to judge this “browser game” with entertainment metrics. This is much more of an economics and business administration simulation with the objective to educate the player and trial certain business strategies in a simulated corporate environment. In that aspect, I find it to be very useful and very interesting.

There are six instructional videos on their website as well, so you can actually learn about the applied metrics and workflows inside the simulation. If you want to get the full brief on the game you can also check out the compilation video below, by John Sterman.

You don’t need to download anything for running CleanStart and it’s also free to play. Just go to the simulation, select “Play as individual” and enter a screen ID. That’s all you need to do and you can start with your very own clean energy startup and make it the new unicorn on the market. Good luck and have fun!

CleanStart has been developed by John Sterman, David Miller, and Joe Hsueh.

Vimeo: CleanStart: Simulating a Clean Energy Startup (Instructional Video)

Photo credit: Selamat Made

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Christopher Isak
Christopher Isakhttps://techacute.com
Hi there and thanks for reading my article! I'm Chris the founder of TechAcute. I write about technology news and share experiences from my life in the enterprise world. Drop by on Twitter and say 'hi' sometime. ;)