Baruch students enhance entrepreneurial mindset at video game competition

Jahlil Rush and Kelly Contreras

Baruch College students gathered to compete for cash in the CUNY-wide Venture Valley Collegiate Cup at the Lawrence N. Field Center for Entrepreneurship on May 3.

Through the online game “Venture Valley,” which sponsored the event, students were ranked on a leaderboard by their “Match Goals” score. Players sought to earn the most revenue or sell the most inventory.

The player who ranked first on the leaderboard received $2,000. The student who ranked second got $1,000. The person who got third place won $500.

Players who ranked from fourth place through eighth place got $100. Additionally, 40 other players got $50.

Maxim Boyko, a Baruch student in his first year, won first place. Parvesh Rudher, a Baruch student in his fourth year, won second place. Gabriel Fernandez, a Baruch student in his third year, won third place.

Andrew Lu, a Baruch student in his fourth year, won fourth place. Jiani Guo, a Baruch student obtaining a Master of Business Administration, won fifth place.

For Selina Lin, a marketing major, the idea of Baruch allowing gaming events to be held on campus excited her. She heard about the Collegiate Cup through a friend on campus and decided to attend. Lin won seventh place at the competition.

While there were students at the event to share their mutual love for gaming, some were looking for opportunities to try new things. Samara Nicole, a philosophy major, was one of those students.

“I’m not a very big gamer,” Nicole said. “But I am excited to try it out.”

The competition welcomed students from other CUNY campuses, such as Queens College and City Tech came to Baruch to play. Field Center Executive Director Marlene Leekang praised “Venture Valley” for bolstering business education within the university system.

“We hope the success of today’s collaboration with Venture Valley and all of CUNY will open the door for amazing partnerships in the future,” Leekang told The Ticker in a statement.

Andrew Lu, whose in-game name was “IroNNon,” joined for the prize money — but after a few hours at the event, he learned more about patterns in the business world. 

Lu explained that the game consisted of completing objectives, like opening a pet walking-business, accruing higher revenue in the avocado market and opening an exotic pet spa.  

“The more you pay your employees, the more productive your employees will work,” Lu shared. His strategy was working for him; it placed him in the top five on the leaderboard. 

The game also featured red cards, which can be used to attack neighboring businesses when playing in multiplayer. Blue cards can be used to upgrade businesses. 

Nick Knight, producer for The Singleton Foundation and the game’s original developer, was amazed by the quick progress the contestants made. He was delighted to see that “Venture Valley” was quickly capturing the interest of many people around the room.

“Venture Valley” was still in the early product development stage when the Singleton Foundation invested into his project. The Singleton Foundation’s mission is to teach young people about financial literacy and entrepreneurship so future generations know how to handle their money and avoid debt — or as Knight said, become “an old guy with no money.”

The problem of entrepreneurial literacy is what The Singleton Foundation attempts to improve by encouraging people to talk about money. For five years, the foundation has developed Venture Valley to make education entertaining.  

“You just get it and play it because we want you to get something beneficial out of it,” Knight said.

The game hosts tournaments among various colleges across the country to build awareness and get people excited about the game. It launched at the end of last year as a nonprofit foundation and receives charitable contributions, partnerships and sponsorships in order to provide more inclusive experiences for players.  

Venture Valley is 100% free to play, no in-app purchases or ads.

“So one of the important things that we want to do if we’re teaching young people what to do with their money, probably not a great lesson to say you should spend your money on a video game, right?” Knight said. “Go against your natural instinct, then, to hoard all your money, and look at your goals!”

Editor’s Note: Parvesh Rudher, who is mentioned in this article, is a staff writer for The Ticker.