Traveling workshop series uses roleplaying game to educate Michiganders on local investing

A new series of traveling workshops produced by Ypsilanti-based investment advisory firm Revalue is giving Michiganders the opportunity to learn about local investing through a low-stakes roleplaying game.


Revalue is producing the Grubstake series in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and Michigan Main Street. The series' name is a late 19th-century term meaning an amount of material, provisions, or money supplied to an enterprise (originally a prospector for ore) in return for a share in the resulting profits.


"For a lot of people, it might be the first time they've ever even considered investing locally, and it's something they can do to get their feet wet in a low-risk environment," says Revalue principal Angela Barbash.


Each session starts with background information about legislative changes that have made local investing easier. Then all participants are given play money and a chance to evaluate a two-person team pitching a mock investment opportunity. Some participants will only receive $500 in play money, while others may get $50,000. Barbash says the investment opportunity will be modified according to the workshop location and what Revalue staff know the local community is interested in.


After the pitch is made, an activity leader will go through the room and ask everyone to stand and say whether they decided to invest or not, how much they want to invest, and the top reason they decided to invest or not to invest.


The rest of the time will be spent on debriefing, and a leader will facilitate a discussion on what participants learned. Participants also receive a packet of resources to take home with them, including lists of questions investors can ask when they are considering real-world investments in the future.


Barbash has already run one Grubstake event in Wayland in mid-December, and plans six more events from January to May in Owosso, Niles, Milan, Wayne, Sault Ste. Marie, and Charlevoix, leading up to the ComCap community investing conference in Detroit in June.


Barbash says educating people about local investment opportunities is part of her duty as a financial advisor. She says it's important for clients to be diversified, but "less than one-tenth of one percent is invested in our own communities."


"If we want jobs to be created, we need a resilient local economy where businesses are thriving and wages are available and increasing, and a tax base that's increasing," Barbash says. "If we want those things, us redirecting even a tiny percentage of wealth back into the local economy makes sense."


More information about upcoming Grubstake events is available here.


Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She has served as innovation and jobs/development news writer for Concentrate since early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to Driven. You may reach her at


Photos courtesy of Grubstake.