Archive | September, 2010

Statecraft – An Idea Brought to Life

30 Sep

Below is an interview I conducted with the CMO of a company that he and a dear friend of my family created.

What gave you the idea for your company?

Joe, my business partner, and I went on a study abroad program called Semester at Sea where we traveled around the world on a ship and spent a week in 13 different countries. We would learn about a countries government, culture, and economy through reading and lectures and then spending a week in that country where we were able to experience what we had learned in class. This really illuminated political science theories and concepts. This interactive approach to learning really hit home with us and made us wonder why colleges back home weren’t utilizing this style of teaching. We knew we had to try and replicate the learning experience we had had on that ship to share with everyone

What were the first steps you took to bring your idea to life?

The first step to bring our idea to life was determining how to replicate the style of learning we had experienced on semester at sea. We decided the best way to do this was through educational simulations because of the immersive qualities that go along with them. Once we decided on a simulation we realized some pretty important details like: we had no money, no programming skills, and no idea how to build a simulation. These barriers were huge but we continued on with our goal and with time everything began to come together.

We met Dr. Jonathan Keller from James Madison University who had developed an in class simulation called Statecraft, which was designed to replicate core dynamics of world politics so students will face the same tradeoffs, opportunities and challenges real world leaders face each day. In doing so students will gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of world politics and gain insight into a host of critical concepts, theories, and real world cases. The biggest problem Dr. Keller had with Statecraft was the enormous amount of time it took him to orchestrate the program since it was not automated. This is where we stepped in and took Statecraft to the next level, turning it into a completely automated web based program. Statecraft incorporates the exact style of learning we wanted to replicate from semester at sea.

What was the biggest road block you faced trying to build your company?

The biggest roadblock we have faced has defiantly been the lack of a programming background for anyone in our company. We have had to outsource our programming work to a third party which has not always gone as smoothly as we would have liked. We look at everything as a learning experience though, so we do nothing but learn from bumps in the road.

What is the goal of Statecraft?

Statecraft was designed with 2 main goals in mind. First, it had to be an effective teaching tool. We wanted to take abstract concepts and theories that students often find difficult to grasp, and make them vivid and clearly understandable. We want students to personally experience the challenges and complexities of world politics. The second goal was to make the simulation as fun and addictive as possible. We wanted students to have an intense, emotional investment in their countries’ fate and to care deeply about what happens in this virtual environment. Students have the freedom to explore their world, conceive and implement whatever plans and schemes they think might solve global problems or advance their country’s interests.

Who is your target audience?
Our intended audience is college students taking entry level International Relations classes or ones similar. We are however in a strange market, where we do not go directly after students rather, we need to gain the attention of their professors to sign off on Statecraft and add it as part of their curriculum.

How is Statecraft going to change the course of education?
Statecraft is going to show students that you can learn without knowing you are learning. And show professors how much more engaged and retentive students are to the theories presented to them in class. We think that grades are great motivators to learn, however, some of the most average or uninterested students happen to be some of the best players in Statecraft.

Now that you are in beta what is the next move?
Now that we have a finished product we are beginning to reach out to professors all over the country to try and get Statecraft in their classroom for the Spring of 2011 and beyond._

To find out more check out their site: Statecraft or if you have questions head here