An idea stemming from a combination of a class presentation and a late night board game session came to fruition when a group of college entrepreneurs developed a $100,000 concept: a Grand Rapids, Mich. edition of the MONOPOLY game.
The Grand Valley State University (GVSU) chapter of the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO), a national group devoted to student entrepreneurship, developed a new MONOPOLY game designed exclusively with Grand Rapids businesses as the properties. The group spent the better part of last year working with USAOPOLY, a company which markets the board game under license from the Hasbro Properties Group.
The project was the result of a combination of ideas that "all just kind of came together at the right time," said Daniel Mulka, CEO’s graduate adviser at GVSU. He was working on a PowerPoint presentation with a MONOPOLY game theme at the time and had played a National Hockey League-themed version of the board game the weekend before.
Mulka then proposed the idea to the members of CEO and the project took off. The project went through different variations during its planning process, including one featuring local attractions and parks, but finally decided on highlighting the rich business heritage of Grand Rapids.
"Grand Rapids is based on a heritage of family-owned businesses and entrepreneurship," said project leader Daryn Kuipers, a finance and management major at GVSU. "We felt with the purpose of our organization, this would be a great way to highlight their presence."
CEO’s final goal for the new game is to raise $100,000 for a sustainable scholarship fund to award at least one chapter member per semester. 2004 GVSU international business graduate and former CEO chapter president Jeff Webb hopes that the sales will help the group’s bottom line.
"Our goal was to have the MONOPOLY: Grand Rapids Edition out by September so they could be available for sale this holiday," said Webb.
The majority of the funds raised have come from donations from major corporations and local businesses that have purchased a property space on the board.
"We even included our fire and police departments as a thank you gesture because of the way they represent the city," said Mulka.
Other companies that have found their way onto the board game include Grand Rapids-based grocery store chain Meijer and office furniture industry giant Steelcase. Ada, Mich.-based Alticor, parent company of Amway Corp. and Quixtar, Inc., replaces what would normally be Boardwalk, the most expensive space on the traditional MONOPOLY game.
The new board game will be available at select Grand Rapids area Meijer stores for approximately $29.95 each.
Webb admits that it took a lot of convincing to show some companies that the organization was serious about pursuing the project, including presentations to high-level executives and CEOs. Even after the sponsor agreed to the plan, the members still had to coordinate the use of each logo (including visits back to the sponsors for logo approval).
Project leader Kuipers said, "It is an unbelievable feeling for a CEO to look you in the eye, shake your hand, and say that they would love to be part of this great project."
"The project has been really fulfilling because you just can’t get this kind of experience in any classroom," added Webb.
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