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It was a few mint juleps in to the evening when Joe Heitzeberg and I started talking about the common experiences of startuphood.  “I just maxed out one of my credit cards,” Joe told me, consulting his iPhone nonchalantly at 1 in the morning.  “I should get a badge for that.”

We both looked at each other, and the idea for StartupVille was born.

The folks here in StartupVille are all a friendly crowd.  They’re happy to help you plant your rutabaga, or mind the ranch, or explain what it means to have capped participating preference on your doggone term sheet.  The rules are simple: Each time you earn a badge, you tweet it (e.g. “Just unlocked #MeltDown badge on #Startupville, but the servers are feeling much better now”). Compete with friends to see who can IPO first!

“Discover” a badge we left off here?  Come to StartupVille and tell us about it in the comments!


Had the “OK, one of us has got to be the CEO” conversation with a cofounder

Launched product beta

Maxed out one or more credit cards in pursuit of noble company goals

Three consecutive months of more than 50 percent growth

First site outage of more than five hours

Told your cofounder to tone down the pitch a little bit, as s/he was scaring you with the enthusiasm level

First time you get to clean the company windows, clean the company floor, or plunge the company toilet

Flown somewhere for purposes of giving a pitch

Read the entirety of Brad Feld’s term sheet series in one sitting, while curled up with one of your own

Check clears from your first VC

Thrown your first post-funding company party

Got your own company T-shirt

Appeared in a print publication with a large national audience (New York Times, Wired, Oprah Magazine)

First encounter with a “real” person, unconnected to your industry or network, who has heard of your company

Turned down your first buyout offer

Game Over

Startupville’s not for everyone.  Some find it too time consuming.  Some find they hate playing.  And some wake up with a triple mortgage and a hundred grand in credit card debt, begging for a job at Microsoft.

But you’ll never know if you don’t give it a try!  Do you have what it takes to win Startupville?

Dan Shapiro is the former CEO of Sparkbuy and Ontela, and when he’s not creating fictional twitter games, he works at Google. You can follow him on Twitter @danshapiro or check out his blog here.

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