The first internet cafes sprouted in South Korea.
I visited the first cybercafe in 2006 to sign up for my Yahoo address.
I have NEVER been intrigued with anything like I was that day at the internet cafe.
I was told, ”When you access the internet, you can search for a job, get friends and even get a boyfriend/husband. There’s so much you can do with an internet connection”.
I frequented the internet cafe until I got my laptop and an internet connection. And here I am 16 years later still exploring the world of Google/the internet.
Back then 10 shillings wasn’t enough to take you to the internet in those cybercafes. You had to spend a minimum of 100 shillings in the cybercafe to at least feel the thrill of the internet.
You also had to be friends with the owner of the cybercafe for you to get an extension in case your money ran out.
Cybercafe owners became richer and were the envy of the town.
If you were in my village border town, the cyber cafe was one and people waited in line to see the amazing world of the internet.
Cybercafes boomed back then and are booming now – ONLY if you know what services or how to elevate your cybercafe to make more money for you.
Internet cafes are one of the cosiest places to relax and be on the internet all day long.
We have an internet cafe in our neighbourhood and it is by far one of the best chill places to be in.
I go there sometimes to browse the internet or finish my work tasks in a changing environment.
The cafe owner is a good friend of the family, so he never fails to mention how he started his internet cafe business and why.
Cybercafes are dead, you hear someone saying.
Yet, you had a dream of starting a profitable internet cafe yesterday!
Do you know why people collect vintage items? Because old is gold is still powerful.
If you have thought of starting a cybercafe and the only blog posts you come across are telling you that cybers are dead, haven’t researched the market well.
More than ever cybercafes have become coworking spaces, gamers connections, digital nomads’ safe haven. Internet cafes have evolved from mere computers and internet services to working areas.
The more advanced you set up your internet cafe to accommodate emerging digital revolution like 3D printing, coworking space, freelancer work station, gamers spot – the more success you will find.
Note, that the more advanced services you provide within your cyber cafe, the more money you make. Customers love businesses that stand out.
You don’t have to be a tech guru to start an internet cafe business.
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit (spotting opportunities and capitalising on the opportunities, patience and resilience), that alone is enough.
Internet cafes have been with us from time immemorial and the demand for internet cafe services keeps on going up.
Starting an internet cafe business is a good way to run your own business and make a living out of it.
There is no barrier to entry in this market and anyone can start an internet cafe business today.
In this article, I will go over everything you need to know about how to start an Internet cafe business.
I will also be sharing some tips and advice as I go along, so keep reading to find out how you can start a successful internet cafe business.
What is an Internet Cafe?
For starters, an internet cafe is also called a cyber cafe.
This is a business that provides internet access and other related services via computers to dedicated users.
An internet cafe has computers with high-speed internet connection as well as other devices like printers, scanners and even gaming consoles.
What happens in an internet cafe business is that people will frequent your internet cafe and ask for these services after which they will pay for the time they have used for your computers.
This is how an internet cafe business works. You can also offer other complimentary products like beverages or printing services.
Easy Step by Step Guide on How to Start an Internet Cafe Business
Use this guide and start an internet cafe business today in simple steps.
- Do your research and analysis
This is the first step you should take before you start an internet cafe business. Ask yourself who your competitors are and who your target market is.
In order to do a thorough competitor analysis, ask these questions:
Who are my competitors and where are they located?
What internet cafe services do they offer?
Why are they reputable?
What is their pricing range?
What makes them have a competitive advantage in the industry?
Do they sell any food or drinks
What are their strengths and weaknesses?
You can beat the competition by pricing your services fairly, offering good ambience, having excellent computers or even offering round the clock internet cafe services.
Now, look at your target market.
Who are they and where can you find them?
Most of your target audience will be gamers, students or young professionals.
What do they want from your internet cafe business?
How much are they ready and willing to pay for internet cafe services?
Knowing who your competitors are is good for you if you want to find creative ways to outrun them and survive with an Internet cafe business. Your target market tells you what they want in an Internet cafe business.
You can also do a SWOT analysis and know the strengths and weaknesses of your starting an Internet cafe business.
i) Pros of starting an Internet cafe business
Overall low startup costs; you can buy new computers
Competition is low
Has fast returns
You can make high profits
ii) Cons of starting an internet cafe business
You work round the clock
It is difficult to scale the business
You have to incur replacement/maintenance costs.
Good research allows you to understand the industry better.
- Write a business plan
A business plan is a guide.
When starting an Internet cafe business, you need to write a well-detailed business plan so that it can be useful to investors and to you when you want to get loans from banks.
A well-written business plan must have the following components:
Products and services
Employee and staffing needs
You can start by writing a lean business plan and expand on the details as you go.
- Plan your finances
Do you know the startup costs for an internet cafe business?
Write a list of all the expected expenses that you need to start an Internet cafe business.
List both the startup and ongoing expenses. You need to come up with an estimate of how much you need so that you can plan your finances effectively.
i) Expenses for starting an Internet cafe business.
WiFi expenses; internet charges
Cost of computers and furniture
Cost of stock supplies e.g for food
Knowing the expenses you are going to incur is important so that you can start your business without incurring any losses.
It also helps you to manage capital better.
- Get funding
An internet cafe business can be an expensive venture to get into.
This is particularly true if you are planning on investing in new computers.
You need to find ways to raise funds to start an Internet cafe business.
There are a lot of funding options available for you to try.
For starters, you can dip into your savings, find a partner or get money from family and friends and start an Internet cafe business.
You can also go to banks for a loan or have an investor take a look at your business plan before they can invest funds into your business.
- Get the right equipment for your internet cafe business.
Do you have a list of the equipment you need to start an internet cafe?
There are things you need to start an internet cafe business.
Some of the basic things you need to start an Internet cafe business include quality computers, headphones, a desk, pads, mice etc.
You also need to find comfortable furniture, including gaming chairs and bean bags for your clients.
Get quality equipment and furniture that is going to last you in the long term.
Tip: Find a supplier who is going to get you quality furniture, computers and other devices.
If you are going to need additional items like snacks, then you have to find a reliable supplier for that.
- Find reliable Internet Service Provider (ISP)
The whole point of starting an Internet cafe business is to give users high-speed internet connections on computers.
This is what proves your Internet cafe business to be efficient and makes it successful.
Internet connection must have good speed and consistent uninterrupted network access.
Do your research and make sure that the service provider you have chosen can give you Internet services that are up to par with your needs.
Tip: High-end internet service providers are quite expensive but they provide the best internet services.
Enrol with them and find a good Internet package that meets your needs.
- Find a good location
Location is everything when starting an Internet cafe business.
For me, the internet cafe businesses I’ve walked into are usually in places that are quiet and serene, perhaps to give people a conducive environment to be in their own space.
This is however not true for all Internet cafes.
i) Things to consider when choosing a location for an Internet cafe
Crime; an internet cafe should be in a crime-free zone to allow people to work night shifts
Foot traffic; high foot traffic increases the chances of people walking into your Internet cafe
Visibility; it should be in a place where people can see
Accessibility; it should be in a place that is passed by motorways and roads
The best locations for an internet cafe business include schools, universities, copy centres and cafes.
Tip: As you think about the location, also think about the design of your Internet cafe. What theme are you going to use? What about the interior decor? Do you plan on having a restaurant on the side?
Your design and renovation should include good air conditioning systems for maximum airflow.
- Meet legal requirements
You cannot start an Internet cafe business without first meeting the legal requirements.
Start by registering your business with the state so that it can operate as a legal entity.
Register your business as a sole proprietorship or an LLC.
Next, ask the local authorities what licenses and permits you need to get to start an Internet cafe business.
i) Licensing requirements for an internet cafe business
Always start your business when you are in full compliance with the law in order to avoid hefty fines penalties or having your internet cafe business shut down.
- Determine what services you want to offer
Apart from a high-speed Internet connection and computer access; what internet cafe services do you want to offer?
The services offered in an Internet cafe will depend on the size of your internet cafe as well as your expertise.
If you have a big sized internet cafe business, you can start a restaurant or a training centre on the side.
When you are thinking about investing in a restaurant cum internet cafe there are some things you must look at:
What is the size of your business?
Do you want to keep the restaurant separate from the internet cafe?
Are you going to make the food yourself or hire people?
How long do your customers stay in your internet cafe?
Most internet cafes also run a restaurant. You need to know that is something that can earn you profit and help you run a successful Internet cafe business before you get started.
- Determine how to price your Internet cafe services
You have to ask yourself how you are going to price the Internet cafe service.
The most common route to go is the per hour basis, therefore customers will have to pay based on how long they are in your Internet cafe business.
You can also give packages or have a membership scheme for the most loyal customers.
Also, start thinking about how to price food and drinks, especially if you are preparing them yourself in a restaurant.
- Have a website
Almost all internet cafe businesses today have websites.
It is how customers are going to find out about your business and where you are located.
You can hire a professional web developer/designer to build a website for your Internet cafe business.
If you have the skills, you can do it yourself. Your website should include your location, the services you offer as well as the charges.
This will encourage people to pay a visit to your Internet cafe business.
- Promote your internet cafe business
If you want to find clients and grow your clientele, you need to have effective marketing strategies that will get you where you want.
i) How to attract clients to an Internet cafe business.
Use posters and flyers
Have a good signage
Use Google Ads
Have a website
Word of mouth marketing
Use paid TV commercials
ii) How to promote an internet cafe business
Offer incentives and packages
Use social media
Have a website
Ask for referrals
Have a loyalty programme
Internet Cafe Services
These are the services you will offer in an Internet cafe.
Providing computers with good internet connections
Photocopying and printing services
Offering gaming equipment and facilities
Graphic design services
IT training courses
Offering private workspaces
Hiring your venue to focus groups
Selling food and beverages
What Equipment Do You Need to Start an Internet Cafe in Kenya?
This is what you need to start an Internet cafe business:
Computer hardware including computers, scanners, printers, gaming devices, keyboards, VR headsets, Playstation, Controllers etc.
Computer software programs e.g Adobe Programs and an Internet cafe management software
A refreshing snacks corner
Get more advanced by offering 3D printing services
Business licenses or permits
Furniture e.g chairs, tables, coffee machine vending machine, bean bags etc.
Software to run the user time limit
A central internet server
Internet Service Provider
What Can I Sell in an Internet Cafe to Make More Money?
This is what you can sell in an Internet cafe.
Food e.g sandwiches
Drinks e.g coffee, juice, water
Convenience products like private workrooms and game nights
Stationary e.g notebooks and pens
3D printing services
FAQs on Starting an Internet Cafe Business in Kenya
Q. Is an Internet cafe business profitable?
Yes. An internet cafe business is highly profitable.
Q. How much does it cost to open up an internet cafe?
The amount of money it costs to start an Internet cafe business depends on how you want to scale your business and whether you are buying new or used equipment.
Startup costs are low if you want to start a small-sized internet cafe business and buy used computer hardware and furniture.
On average, you can start an Internet cafe business for $1000 or more.
Q. How do I make money with an internet cafe business?
With an Internet cafe business, you will be making money based on the Internet services you offer.
Customers will pay you for the time they spend on your computers.
You can also sell food and beverages or other computer-related products and make money this way.
Q. How should I price my internet cafe services?
First, look at what your competitors are charging for different internet cafe services to guide you.
You should price your services by the hour as well as include other business expenses into the overall charges for your customers.
Q. How much money can I make with an internet cafe business?
An internet cafe business is a very lucrative venture.
The amount of money you make will depend on how many clients you can have in a day.
Channel all your efforts towards marketing if you want to make a lot of money.
On average, you can make around $300 a month in profit with an Internet cafe business.
Q. How do I make an internet cafe business more profitable?
To make an internet cafe business more profitable, start selling complimentary items like food and drink or other computer-related products.
Q. Are internet cafes still popular in Kenya?
Q. Who are the competitors of internet cafes in Kenya?
The biggest competitors of internet cafes in Kenya include Internet service providers like Safaricom, Telkom and Airtel.
The more people have smartphones with an internet connection, the less viable internet cafes are.
To stand out from the competition from other internet service providers provide services that people cannot access from their smartphones like 3D printing services or turning your internet cafe into a coworking space.
Q. Why is an internet cafe good business?
An internet cafe is a good business because gamers and gaming becoming popular in Kenya.
Tourists/travellers and digital nomads also make internet cafes a good business.
Also, not everyone affords Wifi/bundles in Kenya therefore internet cafes remain a popular choice to connect with others online.
The Digital revolution has brought about the increasing demand for internet cafe services.
Report shows that the internet cafe industry is booming and growing.
In fact, it is estimated that this industry receives billions worth of cash in profit.
If this doesn’t sound astounding enough to you, I don’t know what will.
Trust me, an internet cafe business is all you are looking for.
You will hit the jackpot once you start an Internet cafe business.
If you can maintain the computers and equipment in your Internet cafe business, you will not run at a loss.
Also, as you start your internet cafe business, always think about how much you want to scale it.
Remember to give your internet cafe customers a high-speed internet connection because that’s what your business should be about.
Have marketing strategies that will put your Internet cafe business out there and help you find more clients.
Take the steps in the article to start your internet cafe business.
In this competitive world of Internet Service Providers like Safaricom, Airtel, Faiba and Telkom, starting a cyber cafe seem like a stupid idea.
Have you thought about the number of Kenyans that cannot access or afford internet services or need more services that go beyond their smartphones?
No matter how many advanced smartphones are, not everyone thinks of buying a printer or scanner, people still come to cyber cafes to get these services.
Have you thought of standing out with your internet cafe by providing services like 3D printing and coworking spaces?
If you’re starting a cyber cafe business, how do you plan on standing out?