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Internet Cafe

Has anyone ever set one up? What advice can you offer?

     
3:12 pm on Jan 29, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Last April, I took an office in a very high traffic (tourist area) with the hope of expanding my business and perhaps getting walk-in traffic as well. It has worked out (to a certain extent) but there is a lot of wasted space which I really don't need.

I had hoped that someone needing office space would find me ... and we could share the rent and other overheads, but that hasn't happened. This morning, the Chief Minister's daughter wrote to me from England (she was my assistant in a kids sailing programme for several years) and said she wants me to be partners with her in an internet cafe ... using my office space.

Its a great idea and would work well. It would also bring in extra funds to help pay the rent. The problem is, I have never done such a thing before and neither has she.

Anyone out there ever done anything like this? If so, what is required? Keep in mind that I have lived in the BVI for 10 years and have never actually seen an internet cafe, so have no idea what people expect to find! I assume they want to use computers and drink coffee ... but that's about as much as I know.

I have no idea what the basic charges are or how they are calculated. What sort of equipment is needed? I need to know everything!

Help!

5:24 am on Feb 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I suppose depending on space/location etc & the local population, getting backing from a video/ store where you supply the labour (to go with your laundromat & internet cafe). The vid store only needs storage space & someone to hand over the vids collect $, Laundromat is semi supervised from witin cafe.

All these business' are long hours so combining them in some fashion seems to make sense.

Vid store gets free? space & one full time position in the cafe is all paid for by vid store partners/owners.

Laundromat is covered previously.

Overheads are reduced right away and you get to see the latest releases :-}

10:36 am on Feb 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Forgot to mention that didgeridoos & art are big in internet cafes in Australia (up north anyway)(something to sit in the corner & on the walls)
<snipped>

[edited by: lawman at 8:06 pm (utc) on Feb. 2, 2003]
[edit reason] Commercial Solicitations Not Allowed [/edit]

phoenixus

10:57 am on Feb 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Danny,
Re the Linux Terminal Server Project. Do you think this is a viable proposition for an internet cafe?

I use linux myself and agree totally financially the cost benefit from not having to pay license fees make the idea very attractive.

However from a casual computer user's point of view (which the majortiy of tourist internet cafe users would be) the difference in appearance and software may be off putting. For example most PC users have only ever used IE and may be daunted by mozilla etc. Also there may be issues with the transferring of digital images from customers cameras, etc.

On a practical level, wihtout some linux knowledge or paying for someone with it.

Taking this into consideration I dont think the linux soloution will be the most attractive if setting up an internet cafe.

Pls dont take this as a flame - I myself am considering a combination internet cafe, computer sales project and was looking at the LTSP for the web access and machines with windows for gaming.

Personally my main concern is potential customers being put off by the unfamiliarity of linux.

Do you have any ideas as how this can be overcome avoided?

Pho

11:32 am on Feb 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Personally my main concern is potential customers being put off by the unfamiliarity of linux.

My local public library offers free internet access. They use Linux, Mozilla, and Star Office. From the lines waiting to get to a terminal, Linux doesn't seem to have been a problem for most people.

11:53 am on Feb 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I'd use a Linux Terminal Server Project setup. This involves diskless machines running off a central server, which makes maintainance/security a breeze and cuts your hardware costs.

FYI you can do that with the Mac (OS X) also. It's called NetBoot.

phoenixus

3:04 pm on Feb 2, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thats great to hear, Victor! Long live the penguin.

As it happens my project is in the hands of the bank, who were taken with linux's reduced costs, however they felt linux may put customers off...so the whole idea is on hold while I secure finances/refine the idea.

From my experience of the Internet Cafe (plymouth, MA while on holidays) the key seems to be, as with any business, local competition. People will be less discerning if they have limited/no choice. Competition drives standards up and prices down.

Liane: Are there any locally, do you have anything to compare to? As was said above, the money often comes peripheral services - coffee, etc

[edit] I have just seen this software for use on windows. <snipped> [/edit]

BTW - I do like the video rental idea - I can really see the combined laundry/video/internet cafe idea taking off in a student area.

[edited by: lawman at 8:10 pm (utc) on Feb. 2, 2003]
[edit reason] TOS does not allow commercial posts [/edit]

12:43 am on Feb 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>Competition drives standards up and prices down

Very true, but....
I'd suggest that if your standards of service and price are where they ought to be, there is no need to enter the ever decreasing circle of 'competition'.
Your clients come to you because of you,just as much as because they prefer your prices, etc, as opposed to another 'competitor'.
Let your competitors compete, you just get on with supplying the best service possible and let them compete against you!

12:46 am on Feb 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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From my experience the majority of users of Internet cafes are backpackers. Do you plan to set up your Internet Cafe near a backpacker hostel or two? It might be worth checking if the local hostels already have Internet access for their guests.

In my travels most Internet Cafes I have been to have the Windoze O.S. One I visited had all Linux based computers. The place was full and no-one seemed to have any problem using them.

Nick.

3:08 pm on Feb 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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tigger, everyone is happy in Amsterdam :)

phoenixus

6:46 pm on Feb 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Mine was to be in a student area on the fringes of a city centre. The local university internet acccess is a little on the slow side and is heavily censored and monitored. My proposition was to offer internet access with far less restrictions (adult sites filtered) also offering online and network gaming. (During my university time these were two of the main reasons for using the Internet Cafe)

So the combined video,laundry and internet cafe with gaming facility would be a good combinitaion as cost reducer/money maker.

There is a local ymca hostel but tbh it doesn't see a great amount of use. The area does see a number of tourists but are more of the refined literary fan.

My intention for those machines that would have run linux was to use the a Motherboardwith onboard processor/graphics. For internet use these are a good compromise as they have onboard graphics/sound/lan and the manufaturer supplies linux drivers.
This would reduce the cost again the machines being around
150 - 200 each.

The biggest costs for me is the actual floorspace in the desired area and the secondary part of the business. For Laine these are not really considerations as the floorspace is already available. Your greatest cost I would imagine will be the actual installation of the network/computers.
I would have a look around at the possible suppliers of the technology and ask for some advice/quotes.

6:51 pm on Feb 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Dont restrict access too much, then it taunts people to bypass security ;) If your going to use Windows as the OS have it ready so you can ghost the drives with your origional copy for easy restores.

If your going to use a Mac I know a few kiosk software titles off the bat that could get you started.

If yer gonna use a PC you will want to find a time management software to track the time and log people out when it comes close or up.

6:52 pm on Feb 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Do you plan to set up your Internet Cafe near a backpacker hostel or two?

Ummmm ... no. The BVI is a rather upscale, Caribbean holiday destination where very few (if any) backpackers can be found. Once again, I would be dealing with mainly yacht charter guests, cruise ship passengers and some overnight hotel guests who do not have access from their hotel.

There won't be any games offered as I am not looking to entice the local teenagers ... just the tourists and there won't be a laundromat either. My office is in an upscale tourist district where this would not be permitted.

11:39 pm on Feb 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

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That sounds ideal to me, Liane.
A relaxed, reasonably efficient, contact point.
12:21 am on Feb 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We want a webcam!
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