The BHAK BHAS Stegersbach offers a very special learning unit for its students: With STARTUP, the school developed its very own subject to gain basic, tangible insights into business life and to promote entrepreneurial thinking. Mario Zartl, the director of the program, explains to us how the business game TOPSIM – Startup contributes to this practical module.
Startup, this is not only the name of one of our business simulations, but also part of the teaching concept in Stegersbach.
“STARTUP gives HAK students the opportunity to work innovatively, develop visionary ideas and turn them into reality. The goal is to give them the know-how to be able to start a successful business after their graduation, or to be an entrepreneurial employee.”
To continue this idea and to accompany the students in their learning process, Mario Zartl and his team are relying on the support of the business simulation TOPSIM – Startup this year.
STARTUP is all about entrepreneurship and focuses on how it works. The other subjects in the school already provide basic knowledge, but STARTUP then links all areas and encourages practical work. The teaching concept extends from the second to the fourth year. In the second year, basics such as design thinking are taught, the third year follows with more concrete figures and the Business Model Canvas. The fourth year then consists of the TOPSIM – business simulation. The students spend 2 hours a week on the simulation.
Mario Zartl manages the seminar with two other colleagues. In total, they supervise around 60 students, who are divided into 3 large groups, each forming teams of 3 members. Very important for students as well as teachers: getting to know the tool. Before the first simulation period, time was taken to analyze the startup website and go through the cloud interface step by step. The business simulation is complex, but the learning comes by doing.
Gamification as a key advantage
Working with a gamified tool was particularly important to Mario Zartl. The students had already learned quite a bit of theory in previous years. Now this knowledge should be put into practice. TOPSIM – Startup connects all areas of entrepreneurship and gets the students to link the individual theoretical blocks of their previous lessons. The business simulation brings incredible added value to the participants, as they now see the results and effects of their strategies in front of their eyes for the first time. They understand the “What happens if…” and that decision-making is not that easy.
TOPSIM was particularly suitable because it can be played with the Cloud in distance learning. Due to the pandemic, the students are all homeschooled. However, the status notifications on the seminar instructor interface allows Mr. Zartl to see directly which team needs help at which point. The lessons take place via Microsoft Teams. Here, each entrepreneurial team has its own channel, which the seminar instructor could then enter individually. The evaluations of the individual periods are then held again in the plenum – it increases motivation to compete and problems of the coming period can be discussed.
We would like to thank Mr. Zartl for the insight into the new teaching concept with our TOPSIM – Startup!