My Short Story
An Electronics and Communications Engineer who currently works at the largest Telecommunications company in the Philippines. Dabbled in Baking. Dabbled in Computers. Dabbled in freelance writing. So you can say I’m a dabbler.
Looking for more opportunities to dabble in.
About the Website
I created this website to aid my fellow computer enthusiasts and internet cafe owners or operators. By sharing stories and experiences gathered from years of running an Internet Cafe business, I hope to inspire others to pick up the proverbial “ball” and run with it.
Me and My Internet Cafe, the Long Story
The Start of My Internet Cafe Business
I always thought of gaming as a business first and a hobby second. Maybe this was the primary reason why I became an Internet Cafe owner. I gain more satisfaction in earning from the games instead of me playing them. Back when I was in elementary ( This was in the cool 1980s ) I had an Atari 2600. If you had an Atari back then you are quite simply everyone’s friend. Your neighbors would forsake playing taguan (hide and seek) or patintero with their buddies and just hang around your house the entire afternoon to play Combat, Pacman, Centipede and other classics.
The Console Rental Business
Me and my friend Patrick, both owners of a sizable library of Atari games decided to leverage our collection and turn it into a business. We loaned out our Atari cartridges to a local gaming arcade who had Ataris for rent on a Play Until Game Over basis. Meaning you had 3 lives to maximize and stretch out your gaming experience. You might be thinking that manually monitoring this is very hard. Why not just rent out on an hourly basis?
Well this model was based on the coin operated arcade games wherein a player also had 3 lives per token or coin. The Atari operator will have to rely on his trusty eyes and ears to monitor each players progress. Luckily, Atari games emit a very distinct and loud sound effect whenever you lose a life or when its GAME OVER. Case in point, see below
The arcade owner would ask for 3 to 5 titles a week so as to have a steady stream of games. We pocketed about 10 pesos per week per Atari Game from our venture. Not a life changing amount but something a couple of kids can proud of.
One of my favorite games. Best played with a buddy. Not much to look at graphics wise but who cares.
From there, I commandeered a small portion of my parent’s garage and turned it into a gaming rental shop. I bought Nintendo Famicoms and second hand TVs operating only after school and on weekends. I then shifted to the Super Nintendo, then to Playstation 1. Gaming consoles are considered a luxury item back then. My estimate would be that only 1 in 50 households own a gaming console. So It’s a great business to have since there is a large demand from kids wanting to try out that new Mario or Crash Bandicoot game.
It was at this point that I started looking at the Computer Rental business. Computer shops were starting to evolve from just a type and print service provider to a gaming hub due to the popularity of Doom and Warcraft. But this was an endeavor that was beyond my resources. In the 90s, a Pentium 386 / 486 computer unit would cost around Php 50K. For reference on the value of money during that period, gasoline retails for about Php 10 per liter. A computer was so expensive back then that when we have college group projects, we had to have at least 1 member who owns a computer.
This pricey sucker was one of the reasons why computer rent back then was Php 60 to Php 120 pesos per hour
The Internet Cafe Business
But in early 2000, a market disruptor entered the CPU scene. AMD released the K6-2 processor – significantly cheaper but almost at par with the Pentiums. It quickly gained popularity and the price war that followed allowed me and countless others to finally own a computer. Seeing the opportunity, I bought a couple of computer units – one a K6-2 450 and the other a Duron 600. Studied networking basics, bought a 10 MB switch, installed counter strike and watched the kids line up and shoot each other with MP5s. I started late compared to other computer shop owners who made a killing during the Starcraft craze. But I did hit the Ragnarok Online wave spot on and this was for me the golden age of the business.
During early 2000 Ragnarok Players number in the thousands. Very impressive considering that Ragnarok Online was NOT free to play when launched
I decided to take a loan, renovate my garage-gaming hub and buy more computer units. Little by little I managed grow my Internet Cafe to 8 units. My Cafe was occupied for the entire day. Ragnarok players would beg me to let them stay overnight so their guild can raid a castle or protect their own. One night while closing shop, I looked at my Cafe, the computers, the network wires and suddenly felt a wave of contentment. To this day I can still recall that feeling and the warmth that came with the memory.
Dreams of Expansion
With how good the business was running, it was very tempting to expand my business. Netopia and Excel where 2 of the biggest Internet Cafe operators back then with branches numbering in the hundreds. I dreamed of being on their level with multiple cafes to my name. But I did not pull the trigger and to this day I consider this as one of my biggest regret.
Was this story familiar to you or were you able to empathize with me ? Do you also have this entrepreneurial ( I swear always use spell check for this damn word ) spirit? When you pass by a jam packed Internet Cafe or Computer Shop, do you wish you have one yourself. Was this the motivation for you to start researching on how to start your own Internet Cafe? Well, you came to the right virtual place. I am here to be your guide from the very start to the advance stages of operating an Internet Cafe ( or computer shop whatever you prefer ) and I assure you that you can Do It Yourself.