Once a mainstay in every 90s’ city and town, the internet cafe was used by backpackers, foreign workers and teens alike. Whether it was to pass the time browsing the web, doing some work or chatting to relatives, internet cafes are making a comeback after the highs of the 90s.
And it’s all to do with the internet, funnily enough. Back then, web 1.0 was slowly developing and access was limited and slow. For a small fee, internet cafes provided the equipment, connection and coffee.
But the internet is vastly improved in 2017 – who would use them now? Here are 7 reasons why.
- Fast, reliable internet is still a luxury
Granted, fibre optic technology has provided hundreds of thousands of consumers with incredibly fast broadband around the world, but evidence suggests the Philippines is falling behind. The report unsurprisingly showed South Korea to have the fastest average speed of 28.6 Mbps, whilst the Philippines came last with 5.5 Mbps in the Asia Pacific region.
- The demand is there
The major clientele group would be the vibrant student population. Manila is home to a great number of educational institutions, both neighborhood high schools as well as sprawling campus universities. All of these students need internet to research and study. By providing fast and reliable internet, the cafe would serve as an ideal place to focus on independent study or to study as a group. You could even jump on the recent PC bang trend, and offer a multiplayer gaming area. In terms of location, a site close to student accommodation but far from university libraries would be a shrewd business plan. This is because students prefer travelling a short distance to their local internet cafe, than lugging all their books to the library; even if the latter option is free! In short, a student-focused internet cafe needs to be everything the libraries and institutions can’t provide.
- Payments can be more versatile
How do internet cafes make their money? The traditional 90s method would see a coin slot on the computer, but times and technologies have changed. Contactless payments, like Google Wallet, are on the rise and make the payment process easier. As with many small business models, the majority of profits will come from beverage and food sales; after all, students need their coffee (or beer) to study through the night! You could also look at more dynamic fees for your services. Instead of an hourly fee, why not offer a weekly or monthly subscription for unlimited internet? You could even make a study space and discount for those wishing to use their own devices.
- Connecting to the internet is now cheaper
Along with the cafe related overheads, you’ll need to choose and speak to an internet service provider (ISP) to ensure your internet is far superior (30Mbps – 100Mbps) than what your clientele (5.5Mbps) can receive at home. It may be more expensive but it’s worth paying that extra bit more for a fantastic speed (80-100Mbps) capable of accommodating many devices, and being known for having reliable internet; students talk! ISPs offer discounts for businesses and often help setting up your network and tech. This initial overhead may be more expensive than other overheads for other businesses, but if the business plan is solid you’ll have no problem finding investors.
- Fewer maintenance issues than you might think
In any case, the world of tech has evolved to be cheaper than it was in the 90s. There are plenty of computers on the market that are ideal for browsing, cheap to replace and require only a little troubleshooting knowledge from a moderately tech savvy employee, such as a student looking to make some cash. The chances are however, you’ll need to bulk buy a fair bit of electronic equipment to cope with the more extensive electrical infrastructure of the cafe. In 2017, we’ve all gotten over wireless technology, which is great on the fly, but a LAN cable can provide far stronger and more stable connection for large downloads. Cables can look rather unsightly, but if sorted and tidied into cable trays they can give a modern and colorful spin to the room. As a starting place, check out RS Components’ wholesale range of cable trays and cable ties, as well as general electronic and technical equipment.
- Getting the word out is now much easier
As an internet cafe it would be expected you had a big presence online and, with the social media boom, getting your new business out there is now far easier, particularly as students are heavily active online. In our article, 7 Cost-effective online marketing strategies we’ll talk you through Instagram, local influencers and Facebook as well as the more technical aspects of a successful campaign.
- The winning cafe/bar model
Cafe by day, bar by night – an all-day study area. Students love a space to chill out that’s more informal than their lecture halls and libraries. If they can have a shake or a fancy Macchiato whilst also completing their essays, all the better! A bright and cheerful decor with plenty of laidback furnishing like bean bags and comfy sofas, as well as work stations would attract many a student. The idea with the design is to match everything to your tech. Your cables, wires and computers are necessary features in the room – work the fittings around them! A few colorful cable trays work well along rafters or up walls.
Hopefully, we’ve demonstrated how internet cafes 2.0 can still make a profitable (and lucrative!) business if you know how to budget, market and deliver. Remember, a successful business is only as good as the homework you put into it; research well!