March 30th, 2012 - Posted by Big Al
You know that I know the value of a buck, so I was at a loss for words when my assistant Roy asked "the Capsim Challenge, what's in it for them?"
We were in the stretch, coming back from a sensor company that thought it could corner the Low End segment by dropping its prices to the rock bottom—price is 53% of the buying decision for the Low End in Capstone— and didn't realize you can't make money when you sell a product for less than the cost of manufacturing it, which is probably what got Roy to thinking about the Challenge. The Challenge is free to all participants.
"Come on boss, they've got to have an angle." I was still stumped. Those Capsim guys are smart. They pretty much invented the online business simulation industry. They didn't get this far by giving stuff away.
"Should I book a flight to Chicago?" Roy asked. I grunted in agreement because I was curious.
Capsim is on the 32nd floor of a swank building in the Loop. Roy rapped on the glass door and a fit young guy let us in. Roy did a quick sweep. "Looks clean, boss."
"Can I help you?" the young guy asked.
"Actually, I'm here to help you..." It's a standard greeting of mine, south of the border of trite, but it works. "Where's the boss?"
"Nice office" I told him. We were sitting at a round table. Lake Michigan was blue and placid out the window. "Let me tell you why I'm here. I'm concerned about your profitability. Why don't you charge an entrance fee for the Challenge?"
"We've been doing the Challenge twice a year since the fall of 2000. We don't charge a fee, we do it for fun!"
I leaned in. "You do it for fun..."
"Yeah, for fun."
I just shook my head. There was nothing else to say.
In the elevator down Roy turned to me. "Giving stuff away? That's no way to run a business."
"No question about it, Roy," I said, patting my checkbook. "They'll be calling me."
Registration for the Challenge is open through April 12. All students who have a paid registration for Capstone® or Foundation® after July 1, 2010 and were enrolled in a 2 year undergraduate, 4 year undergraduate, or MBA/graduate course and have not participated in a previous Challenge are welcome to participate. There is (as discussed) no fee.
Big Al is the Capsim lender of last resort. When Capsim companies run out of money, Big Al arrives, with a checkbook and a smile, to write a check that covers the shortfall - at above market interest, of course!