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  1. #1

    Lightbulb Internet Cafe - Help Please

    Hello,

    After about a year and half working, building, and managing an Internet Cafe (LAN Center), I've decided to start my own.

    I've been planning this for the past 6 months so I've put allot of time into this. The business plan and most of the stuff is ready to go. Financially I'm also ready to go. Few things left for me to do and thatís scouting a location and going ahead with this.

    Anyways there are a few things Iíd like to ask suggestions on in this forum:

    1) What would you think are reasonable specs for computers that should be able to run most games nowadays? Keep in mind that I will be buying 30 of these comps so Nothing excessive like P4 3.4GHz EE or something. My planned budget per comp is 900 maximum (including monitor/keyboard/mouse etc). Biggest question is AMD or Intel. And then what specs etc. Yes Iím going into the heated debate against AMD/Intel and nVidia/ATI. However Iím leaning more towards Intel as donít overheat as much last time Iíve checked. And heat is a major problem when you have 30 computers running in 1 room. Any opinions on specs would be appreciated.
    2) Networking, I believe I will be going with the best on this. Iíve seen a lot of LAN centers skimp on networking equipment and end up having terrible lantencies even on LAN games. Iím thinking of going all Cisco Switches and so forth. Any suggestions on this? Networking isnít my specialty.
    3) And does anyone know of any good distributers or places to buy in BULK for cheap in CANADA! Iíve been looking around and found close to nothing. Any help in this area would be hugely appreciated.
    4) Also, any suggestions or ideas youíd like to see in a internet cafť is always helpful.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    1) Although I favor Intel a lot, I'd have to say AMD in your case. Because of the fact they are substantially cheaper, you will be able to afford to replace a machine and buy a higher specs machine that if you went the Intel route.

    I would look into the older nForce boards (made by Asus..). They had everything onboard and I believe could support upto a 3000+.

    2) All Cisco? Not to knock Cisco in anyway, but that may be overkill. You pay alot for the name and the high quality of control. If you are not sure what you need/want network wise I'd sit down with some sort of network professional/consult. Tell him what you want to pay, what speeds you want to support and so forth.

    3) For games? I believe you actually have to purchase each game with a special license. Can get real expensive real fast.

    4) Food, beverages, consumables, etc will be your biggest money maker in my opinion. Keep plenty on hand and don't charge obsurd prices.

    Good luck.

    I've done a decent amount of research on the subject and believe there's a huge market with it, however in my area I'd have a hard time getting a steady flow of customers and making enough profit.
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  3. #3
    Thanks for the comments, Cisco, well I'm not talking about totally high end stuff. Just switches and so forth to make sure everything flows smoothly.

    Yes for games, if any profit will be made off the games, most places will require you to purchase a special license as the retail license is only valid for personal uses only.

  4. #4
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    Hello,

    Not to take this thread offtopic, but can anyone englighten to me as to what are some expenses to start an Internet Cafe? I can calculate for the most obvious and general expenses: rent, computers, etc. But what are the long term, and hidden, expenses? Any long term traps especially relevant to this business?

    KevinSyn, have you thought about security? Nothing was mentioned here about security, and I thik it's an important factor to consider, especially today.

    Thank You

  5. #5
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    Funny this thread came up. I have been trying to find the finances to start one here. Theres an available building that is about 10,000 sq ft. You have a college on one side, and a new hospital on the other. It's a new area and growing like crazy. An internet cafe would make a serious killing.

    I figure sub lease some space in there to 2-3 food chains, and everything will pay for itself, the internet part would be pure profit. I dont want an investment company. I want an individual with the money to partner with me 50/50. I will do all the work to make it happen, I just need the finances.

    This is about 30 miles north of houston that is rapidly growing, and I have never in my life here seen a more perfect spot for an internet cafe.

    If anyone is interested

    webdude@ worldzonepro.com

    And yes I already have a deal with the cable company to run internet fiber in if I am able to do this. It's nice to know the right people

  6. #6
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    Originally posted by Webdude
    Funny this thread came up. I have been trying to find the finances to start one here. Theres an available building that is about 10,000 sq ft. You have a college on one side, and a new hospital on the other. It's a new area and growing like crazy. An internet cafe would make a serious killing.

    I figure sub lease some space in there to 2-3 food chains, and everything will pay for itself, the internet part would be pure profit. I dont want an investment company. I want an individual with the money to partner with me 50/50. I will do all the work to make it happen, I just need the finances.

    This is about 30 miles north of houston that is rapidly growing, and I have never in my life here seen a more perfect spot for an internet cafe.

    If anyone is interested
    webdude@ worldzonepro.com

    And yes I already have a deal with the cable company to run internet fiber in if I am able to do this. It's nice to know the right people
    A typical building with 10000 sft floor space can house a call centre/back office /business processing support centre in India with about 100 to 150 terminals [That makes it a medium sized unit often contracted or leased to third parties. Larger companies like Dell/Oracle will have more space and advanced facilites for inhouse operations.

    With all the noise in America about outsourcing and loosing jobs why not setup a call centre/back office operations ? Surely many would be willing to give a contract to US homeland entreprenuers. With a contract in hand financing should also be easy via banks.

    In India it would cost approximately: Rent per month: US$ 5000, Advance deposit of 10 times the rent: US$ 50000

    I am told that it can mean a saving of upto even 80 percent for the US companies if outsourced to India . I am not aware of the rentals and prices there to give a definite comparison. Dedicated bandwidth is definitely very expensive in India, so is harware and software. Only things cheaper are salary and rentals [In prime locations where the corporate offices prefer to locate the rentals are much more] Recently a software company had advertised seeking office space and they were ready to offer 50000 per month for 25000 sft in a prime location.

  7. #7
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    RajanUrs,

    Because I know nothing about the call center business. I do however know cisco hardware and the technology to do an internet hotspot.. I would be better off sticking to what I know. This location would be better suited for an internet cafe versus a call center.

  8. #8
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    www.igames.com

    If you arent a part of them, join them... They have been a valuable resource to the folks that run the game center where I have my office (www.northlangaming.com)

    Also, dont go with onboard video, you want cards that can be upgraded easily. But definately go the AMD route as its cheaper. AMD 2000+'s should get you by just fine.

    DO NOT SKIMP ON COOLING! Make sure that your center is air conditioned well in the summer time. And make sure that your computers are tucked away in a "dust free" area, like a cabinet under the counters, or something. Northlan has problems with dust buildup on the vid cards and the cards overheat and fry. But they have the computers just sitting on the floor beneath the counters. If you had a cabinet and put 4 computers in it for the 4 stations right next to it, you can easily minimize the dust that enters the computers.

    Also, back to igames. they are working with the software/game manufacturers on licensing deals for game centers. Currently, almost all game publishers require a special site license for the game, plus individual licenses for all the computers, plus a percentage of profit sharing made from the games... Igames is trying to get it down to just a site license, or per computer license, with igames dues.

    You might want to check out a program called "Smart Launch".. its what northlan uses. The central server manages the accounts, and you add money/time to the accounts. Then they can go to the stations and log in, and play the games, and when they run out of time, the system boots them from the game, and logs out of the station. It gives 10min, 5min, 1min, and 3sec warnings when you are almost out of time. Its pretty sweet

    You can talk to the guy who runs it, his name is Jim. You can get the contact info for the game center from www.northlangaming.com

  9. #9
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    "And yes I already have a deal with the cable company to run internet fiber in if I am able to do this. It's nice to know the right people "


    Hahahahahahah
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  10. #10
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    just from the questions / knowledge you've shown.. I really would stay away from it.. don't even bother asking.

    I'm amazed you have to ask EITHER of those questions, if you've spent the last year and a half working around/starting up/running a lan cafe.

    Six months of 'planning', and you haven't factored in the most important parts into your equation?
    Last edited by mg-; 05-06-2004 at 01:17 AM.
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  11. #11
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    Cyber cafes (and related food/beverage establishments) have a high rate of failure. Make sure you're going into this with sufficient research of the industry and area demand plus a lot of capital to back you up.

    I recently presented a similar proposal to a local venture group, which was literally torn apart with major concerns and criticism. Thats not to say its a bad idea, just one that requires a lot of research, a good supply of capital, and a large stock of rabbits feet to back you up

  12. #12
    Shayne- What do you mean in terms of security? If you are talking about computer access, We have a program taking care of entire front end and backend and also will plan to have deepfreeze to restore all settings to their original state.

    amish_geek - Thanks for the info, however i've been aware of igames since the beginning

    mg-
    I'm not trying to start a conflict, But i'd like to know what part of the questions makes me "incapable" of opening this internet cafe.
    If you have factual evidence to back up the claim that i do should stay away from opening it, please post it. Otherwise withold your personal opinions. Other people here have provided good constructive criticism however I was aware of all of those things already. Nonetheless, they provided some factual information. The point is, I'm asking for either constructive criticism, suggestions and so forth, not to be flammed.

    But FYI,

    Just because i asked about specs of systems I should get, does not mean I haven't done my reasearch. If you really have to know, my plan is outdated as the numbers I've ran were for computers approximately 6 months ago. I've ran over budgets, etc a million times. However, if you are any bit aware of the rapid change in technology and price deprevation, you'd understand that my initial specs I used 6 months ago is just a tad old.

    Networking is the only major problem but is not a serious one as it is only a matter of deciding on exact components. However, I have MORE then just a general idea of how I want everything done and to ensure efficiency. I was asking on opinions on what people thought on specific switches, etc. Not configurations.

    Furthermore, my initial research has yielded minimal amounts of distributers in Canada that will give me decent pricings for bulks of less then 50-100 and so forth. I was just asking if anyone knew any distributers that would sell cheap when ordering 10-50 units.


    Deathnova - Thanks for your concern. Yes i am totally aware they have a high rate of failure. As a matter fact, i've witness 2 internet cafe's open and go bankrupt. However i've done my research and can specifically tell you every fault that I've witness with these failed buisnesses as well as some of the failing ones. Where others fail, I will attempt to not make the same mistake.

    However, I have "stumbled" into a idea that would offer a totally difference experience then the traditional internet cafe's. Furthermore, the location where I live houses an extremely large gaming community. However, there seems to be lacking any serious internet cafe's around my general area. Even better yet, the location I'm looking at is almost too perfect.

    Yes I realize that this type of buisness is extremely risky, but at the same time, if successful, can be quite profitable. As far as capital. I have been able to get more then more then enough capital.

  13. #13
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    Thats the same here, the location is almost too perfect. I swear that building is haunted or has it's own soul. Everytime I drive by it I hear a sexy voice saying "Psst, Hey Webdude... Look at me. Dont ignore me! TURN YOUR HEAD AND LOOK AT ME DAMNIT!!!" I know it's coming from that building, it's gotta be

  14. #14
    Hahah. Yea the location i have in mind is decently cheap rent. Located within Walking distance of 2 major highschools. RIGHT in front of a major bus stop for public transportation, close to the bus terminal. Huge parking lot. Close to one of the biggest shopping malls around. Area around it is filled with places to eat, drink etc and places that already popular hangout spots among teenagers. Best of all, its located very close to a huge university campus.

    I cannot describe how perfect this location is. Ack. Anyways If all goes well, I might be up and running in around june-august. But june is optimistic thinking. Anyways this place is crying to be used

  15. #15
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    Originally posted by KevinSyn
    Hahah. Yea the location i have in mind is decently cheap rent. Located within Walking distance of 2 major highschools. RIGHT in front of a major bus stop for public transportation, close to the bus terminal. Huge parking lot. Close to one of the biggest shopping malls around. Area around it is filled with places to eat, drink etc and places that already popular hangout spots among teenagers. Best of all, its located very close to a huge university campus.

    I cannot describe how perfect this location is. Ack. Anyways If all goes well, I might be up and running in around june-august. But june is optimistic thinking. Anyways this place is crying to be used
    Damnit, now you force me to explain my. Why'd you go and do that???

    Has a new BIG hospital on one side, a college on the other. New offices are being built all over the area. Across the road is a new super walmart with all the eat places all around it. It's all new. Less than 10 years ago (about 5) it was all woods with nothing but a little run down single-wide where walmart sits (I'm sure that guy isnt in a trailor anymore..LOL), and the road was a little country two laner, now it's four lane with grass median. So you get the idea of how fast things are growing here. That walmart is only about 2 years old. This area is BOOMING! An internet cafe at the location I have found is a gold mine waiting to happen. The problem with such a booming area is you cant wait, you have to jump in and do it, or there wont be any place left to put one.. For this one, it's probably a matter of weeks, not months, till the opportunity is gone.. I have to snag that building fast..

  16. #16
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    I didn't have time to read everyone's responses, so this may have been said already. Here's just a bunch of stuff.

    Remember not to concentrate on the computer aspect of the cafe. Sell food and drinks too. Honestly, I don't see how Internet cafe's stay in business. Most people have computers these days. For those who can't afford a computer, they can't afford to spend much at Internet cafe's. So charging $10/hr to use a computer is probably out of the question for most people. Of course, I come from a small town, so I might not see the "light". In a larger city, this could do very well.

    As for the computers, I would wait a little while before jumping in and buying a bunch. Actually it might be cheaper to rent/lease them. Also allow people to bring in their own laptops so they can connect to the net. The reason I would wait is below....

    I would wait to see what kind of computers will be required to play HalfLife 2, and Doom 3 at the highest quality. Also look at farcry (already released). These three games are what most gamers will play at Internet cafe's. If you can't support those games (with the best quality), then there is NO POINT AT ALL in starting an internet cafe. You should also hold Tournaments for those games.

    I would also consider an area to play consoles. Maybe for 4 player games, you can set up 4 screens, instead of doing the old 4 corners on one tv.

    Also, when dealing with games. Remember that students will be a large part of the market. Try to be up and running during the summer.

    I would also have events to get adults/seniors involved in computers. They might also enjoy some videogames

    Back to the financial end of it. You need to sell more than just Internet access. You got lots of expenses. Rent, Computer equipment, tables, chairs, food/drinks, equipment for food/drinks, Internet access (30 connections?), 30 antivirus software, 30 copies of each games, staff, etc.

  17. #17
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    Here in duluth, there is a fairly competetive Internet Cafe/LAN Center market.

    In the twin ports (Duluth MN / Superior Wi) last year, there were 5 internet cafes / LAN Centers (Duluth is 86,000ppl, superior 32,000) Now its down to 2, Northlan and Gamers Guild, and Gamers Guild is for sale. Why did Northlan survive? Because the owners of Northlan arent in it to make money, they are in it to provide a fun/safe environment for the teenagers in their area. So the center doesnt seem like they are always trying to make a buck off the kids, so its a pretty cool atmosphere.

    That and their pricing is enough to pay the bills, so with a membership, its only $2/hr on mon-thurs, and $3/hr fri-sat. Day passes are $10 mon-thurs, and $15 fri-sat.

    Of course, one of the owners also runs his Dish Network satellite business out of the same space, so that pays the rent....

    Be sure to include a space for about 30-50 extra computers in a separate room, with counter space, power, and network connections. That way, you can host BYOC (bring your own computer) LAN Parties on weekends

  18. #18
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    Here in India most cafe charge about US$ 0 .5 per hour Wifi acess is twice that. With 100 hours membership it may even drop to 0.2 per hours. For about 20 dollars we can get a DSL or Cable access for an entire month with about 500MB transfer. Additional cost of 100 MB is about US$ 3

  19. #19
    I've noticed a few people here say that the "Hotspots" for a great cafe would be around a college campus or university... I don't think thats a good idea at all..

    Technology is growing extremely quickly, I have about 11 Colleges local to me (30 minutes driving) and about 8 of them have wireless networks across the whole campus. And the 3 that don't will probably have the networks in withing the next 1-2 years..

    I think that MAYBE, just a cafe with a more "homely" feeling to it, and incorporate the same concept of starbucks and become a wifi hotspot would make you more and do better in the long run.. Maybe go with 5-10 computers only and expand from there if needed..
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  20. #20
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    RajanUrs you didn't mentioned.

    1) all softwares used in cyber cafe are pirated.
    2) hardware is pretty lame.
    3) connection speed is never more then 10-30 kbps during rush hours (most of time).
    4) its mass products and forget about the security, you can be hacked at any time.

    about cable connection it has only 50-60% of uptime in most of areas and again connection speed is pretty lame (30-60 kbps) unless you pay ridicules prices.
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