The Upstarts are the self-proclaimed title given to a team of highly unconventional young men of exceptional intelligence and power who, in their own minds, would probably think it a very good idea to engage in a game of chess against each other, competing not only for physical supremacy but for intellectual authority as well. To these young men, even the mention of another human being on the chessboard was a symbol of weakness, of having failed in their previous attempts to control the game. But these Upstarts did not have a sense of humor; in fact, they treated all of their opponents with what might be best described as disdain. The Upstarts established a rule that any human being, with a normal level of intellect, was to be utterly destroyed at the first opportunity. Although the game was intended as a test of strength, the Upstarts specifically made it a game of weakness, a competition between themselves to see who could be weaker than the most powerful member of their team.
There were many other reasons, these upstarts decided to develop a highly competitive game in which to play. But perhaps the most important factor that played into their development of the game was that they felt strongly that the concept of the Upstart should encourage people to think for themselves and to challenge conventional wisdom. The Upstarts felt that a person, when using the chessboard, should always view the board as an opportunity to challenge and displace conventional wisdom, rather than viewing it as a tool to be used to solve predetermined problems. Because of this, they designed the game so that the first five moves of each game would correspond to the first five letters of the new name, making it so that the Upstarts could use letters from the alphabet to form words. This forced the players to think as if they were solving a problem rather than using a pre-ordained pattern.
The Upstart brand, the brainchild of the founders of the Upstart Charitable Trust and the late Dr. Richard Seligman, was meant to be the one company that would truly push the entrepreneurial cause of charity. It was to be a company that would use its love of gaming to build a community around itself. Its name was chosen based on the idea that the stronger the brand, the stronger the company. The company, it was hoped, would attract the entrepreneurial spirit of young entrepreneurs and help them pursue their own dreams of making it big in the business world.
The business that the company was going to launch was going to be built around the core values of what the brand stood for: fairness, friendliness, and generosity. These were business concepts that could not have been further from the truth, as it became very apparent very early on that the staff members did not really enjoy the business they were being asked to do. The executives realized very quickly that there were inherent issues with the way that they were being treated by their upstart peers and felt that they were being bullied. These tensions between the Upstart team and the staff grew to be too great for the Upstart business to handle. When the company finally launched in the spring of 2021, things had completely fallen apart.
Upstart’s failure was a direct result of poor communication between the company and its volunteers. Despite the community that Upstart built being strong and passionate about the mission of the company, the executives did not feel that they were being communicated with. It took a strong team of community leaders and volunteers to make the needed adjustments, and these efforts were not communicated clearly enough to keep everyone on the same page. If the Upstart brand had been more clearly defined, and if the company had relied on its team members more than on consultants, then it is possible that it might have been able to weather the storm and stay afloat.
Upstart was not a perfect company; it did not create a perfect world for every business owner. But it did offer an excellent model for how to get started and develop a strong, loyal, passionate brand. It remains to this day a shining example of what can be achieved with a new business idea, and it should be remembered as such.