Project in the spotlight: Game Development & 3D minor
Think of a solution to teach business skills to future entrepreneurs in a developing country in order to promote sustainable entrepreneurship. This was the assignment that students Mike Bajema, Djamilla Hofmeyer, Merly Bacus, Femke Brouwer, Sem de Roos and Kyle Werner took on. They developed an app that helped the user gain insight into what running a company involves – and in the process had to put their own entrepreneurial skills to use.
Basic business plans
A well-substantiated business plan, sufficient start-up capital and detailed administration are all common factors for those wanting to start their own company in the Netherlands. In other parts of the world, however, starting a company with very little preparation or financial grounding is more common. But how do you find out what you need to run a business, who your target group is and how you can make sure your product is right for your market?
"The South African non-profit organisation, Epic Solutions, has been providing training courses over the past 20 years to hopeful entrepreneurs, teaching them the skills needed to run a sustainable business,” explains client Akkemar Born. "Often, people start without a plan, keeping no administration whatsoever, and the majority of these companies cease to exist after six months. Our training courses give them the basics, but we felt the format needed updating.” And so Epic Solutions approached NHL Stenden with a task for students taking the Game Development & 3D minor to come up with a new digital approach.
Testing in the market
After weeks of development and feedback, the group of six students decided to go and test the app themselves in a South African township. "Testing your product with the target group is an essential part of the design process," says student Mike Bajema. "In our case, this was a township in South Africa." In order to be able to do this, the students went on a quest for sponsors, funds and subsidies. Mike: “That was a completely new experience for me, but it familiarised us with the biggest challenge entrepreneurs face, namely how to get the money you need to make your dreams come true."
The six students travelled to South Africa in the autumn break, for a week packed with new experiences. “You can prepare and read all you want, but when you get there, it turns out to be completely different to anything you could have imagined.” says Djamilla Hofmeyer, laughing. “From day two, we started testing our app and surprising improvements soon emerged. For example, we visited the local market to see for ourselves how expensive all the products are so that we could adjust the prices in the app. Small details, which make the game far more realistic. And I noticed a clear difference in thinking with people who had played with the app. If only in the fact that they had become aware of how important it is that you keep track of your expenditures. That was highly rewarding for me.”
Mike was also impressed by the apps success. “After just one day of testing, people were already coming up to us to tell us that they had only just become aware of where they had gone wrong. That’s really cool. It made us realise how much we can achieve with the app.”
Broadening the scope
Lecturer Joke Lunsing was also excited about the results of the tests. “It is great to see the impact of this project on our students. They have learned so much, not just with regards to the app and entrepreneurship, but also in gaining life experience.” With the knowledge they acquired in South Africa, the students have managed to create an excellent basis for the app. This will be further developed in a follow-up with new students. “It's great to see that this project can appeal to a broader audience,” says Akkemar proudly. "Besides Communication & Multimedia Design, the Serious Gaming Master has now also joined, and we’re considering including Social Work in the project too. After all, the effects of the app will also help enhance the community.”