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Our Story - Playing Lean: A Game-Changing Tool to Learn How to Launch a Product or Start a Company


Photo credit: Damien Mustaphi

Discovering Playing Lean: A New Approach to Entrepreneurship
Brandy and Craig, two passionate ecosystem builders and pioneers in entrepreneurship education in Alberta, Canada, embarked on an exciting journey when they discovered the Playing Lean Boardgame. Their goal was to find an innovative and engaging way to help aspiring, first-time, early-stage, student, rural, and underrepresented entrepreneurs learn how to launch a product and start a company without draining their bank account, bruising their ego, or damaging their reputation. Little did they know that this game would become a game-changer for their Canada-wide startup community and technology ecosystem development efforts.

First Encounter and Immediate Impact
They describe their first encounter with the game as intentional chaos, where they hosted over 30 aspiring entrepreneurs on their maiden game night. Despite the mayhem, the game sparked enthusiasm and curiosity among the participants, creating an immersive learning experience that people loved. Participants were so engaged that they were eager to play again on the second night of their weekend-long startup training.

Enhancing Learning Through Debrief Sessions
To enhance the learning experience, Brandy and Craig led debrief sessions where each team discussed the experiment cards played during the game and their strategies. This allowed the participants to create a shared understanding of the importance of customer discovery, the impacts of different types of experiments, and how to apply the lessons learned to real-life business scenarios. Brandy and Craig used their extensive knowledge of lean startup methodologies and experience coaching entrepreneurs to enrich these discussions with real-life examples.


Photo credit: Craig Elias

Expanding the Reach and Impact Across Western Canada

Since then, Brandy and Craig have continued to host Playing Lean games across Western Canada, iterating their approach so it could be learned, played, and debriefed in under two hours. They observed how the game encouraged critical thinking, problem-solving, and strategic decision-making, all essential skills for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Growing Reputation and Expanding Audiences
The success of the Playing Lean Boardgame in their events led Brandy and Craig to expand its reach. They began organizing workshops and events, inviting entrepreneurial educators, accelerators, and startup support organizations to experience and host the game. They also started hosting game nights at universities, colleges, and accelerators across Canada.

Inspiring Young Entrepreneurs and Shaping the Future
As their reputation grew, Brandy and Craig realized the potential impact they could have on the next generation of entrepreneurs. They began hosting game sessions for students as young as 15, seeing the game as a catalyst for creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking. They continue to empower aspiring entrepreneurs and are advocates of the work by Ash Maurya (LeanStack) and Alexander Osterwalder (Strategyzer), both of whom were involved in the creation of the Playing Lean Boardgame. 

Aspiring for Bigger Goals and Wider Reach
They are currently working on large-scale events that bring together up to 200 participants to play the game simultaneously, with the goal of hosting the largest Playing Lean game ever held.

Influencing a Broader Community
Brandy and Craig are recognized experts in innovation and entrepreneurship, and they continue to seek innovative ways to reach more aspiring entrepreneurs who face barriers to launching their first startup. Their LinkedIn posts about Playing Lean Boardgame sessions have inspired other educators, incubators, and accelerators to adopt the game. They continue to spread the word on social media, sharing their experiences and empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs to chase their dreams and build successful startups.

Join the Movement: Revolutionize Entrepreneurship Education
If you're an educator, accelerator, or startup support organization looking for a game-changing tool to teach entrepreneurship, look no further than the Playing Lean Boardgame. Join Craig and Brandy on their mission to revolutionize entrepreneurship education and create the next generation of changemakers and successful entrepreneurs.

Connect with Craig Elias in LinkedIn or WhatsApp: +1 (403) 874-2998

Connect with Brandy Old in LinkedIn or WhatsApp: +1 (825) 594-4940

Join their community and participate in an event: https://150startups.com/

Connect with Mikko Mannila in LinkedIn or schedule a video call.

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