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Startup around the university area
  • Lee hun, reporter
  • 승인 2017.06.08 23:27
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PC valley is successfull startup around university area

It is getting harder to survive in this recession era! People who have retired early or people without any experience of running their own business normally start a restaurant as they don’t have anything to do, but 9 out of 10 are unsuccessful. The successful 1 out of 10 in the restaurant industry are rarely from people who have worked in an office. As the competition in the food industry is so intense, the competition in the Internet cafe industry is relatively low. Today, I want to talk about Internet cafes. I will meet the owner of PC Valley who wrote a success story in the Internet cafe industry and receive some advice.

Q: Hello, nice to meet you. Could you please introduce yourself?

A: I’ve never imagined to give an interview for running an Internet cafe. Hello, I’m Mr.Lee and I run 6 Internet cafes in Yongwon, Jinhae and the college town in Changwon.

Q: It’s amazing that you jumped into this business 3 years ago and now successfully expanded to 6 stores.What do you think the most important thing is in the Internet cafe business?

A: Running an Internet cafe or any other business, the most important thing is customer targeting. It depends on whether you are targeting casual customers in a place with a floating population, young students in school zones, office workers where many companies are gathered, or targeting couples… You can come up with different strategies depending on your decision. Instead of targeting every customer, it’s important to set an appropriate target group so that you can do your best. On the contrary, you can start with selecting a good area and then planning your strategy. If the targeted group matches well with the location, you can get a head start over everyone else. There must be a big difference in future sales between those who set the target first and those who didn’t. As you know, our main customers are high school and university students.

Q: So you mean, set the main customer first, then plan your business strategy accordingly?

A: Yes, that’s right. Our business strategy is fully customized for students. One of the main features of our Internet cafe is the special prepaid system. Which is, if you prepay $5 at PC Valley 1 and you spend $3 there, you can spend the rest of $2 at PC Valley 2. Especially in college towns, there are so many Internet cafes, so people just go wherever they see first. But with this special prepaid system, we could attract many students to our store. Also, we often have LoL and Overwatch competitions to promote our Internet cafe.

Q: Managing people is the most difficult part in every business, how do you handle it?

A: You can’t run an Internet cafe by yourself. Like every other job, the most difficult thing is managing people. People who go home during their shift without saying anything, people who run away with the money, people who invite their friends and let them play for free, people who don’t work, and people who don’t show up… You have to consider that there are so many types of workers. It would be great if you have a worker that you can rely on, but it’s really difficult to find one. That’s why PC Valley has implemented an unmanned system. In order to use the computers, you need to prepay the usage fee through a machine. This has two advantages, the first one is the sales figures are automatically organized. Secondly, the workers can concentrate on other duties.
Q: Unmanned systems… Internet cafes are getting advanced. Are there any other things to think about?

A: When running your own business regardless of industry, you have to think about the purpose of your business. The two are: is it to support your living or make profit? There’s a big difference on whether you consider it or not. Simply thinking, if it is just to support your living, the most important thing will be the owner constantly staying in the store and taking care of regular customers. You can reduce labor costs by you yourself working. It doesn’t mean that because the purpose is to support your living, the earnings would be less. It’s also one of the strategies. If the purpose is to make a profit, you have to arrange an environment in which it can be run by itself and make services to minimize potential risk factors such as loss of regular customers. You can organize various events and make people keep coming due to a good system rather than from their ‘habit’. Generally, the revenue varies at least 10%~20% whether the owner is in the shop or not. If the stores can run by themselves with an automated system, the owner can work on other things.

Q: Lastly, please give some advice to students planning to open their own business.

A: With the Internet cafe business, if you know a person who you can get proper advice about this industry and you also have the skills to fix computers, you can think about opening your own store. Otherwise, you could consider joining a franchise. These days, Internet cafes have a lot of franchises with diverse strategies from each other just like restaurants. It’s also very important to make a good plan with your financial status. It may be different depending on size, but when an individual opens a shop, it costs at least $70-80k. If you join a franchise, there is an advantage of expanding the size as you can get some loan goods. However, whether it’s a franchise or individual business, it is essential to research, study and learn field experience before jumping into a business.

Lee hun, reporter  20160189@changwon.ac.kr

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