By ONG BOON KIAT – BizIT Singapore
HIGH-TECH restaurant Geek Terminal – a mobile worker’s haven which has been spicing up the local F&B scene this past year with its unique blend of chic meals, gourmet coffee and high-tech business centre services – is planning to set up outlets in eight cities, a move expected to take place over the next three years, says company CEO and co-founder Christopher Lee.
In an interview with BizIT last Thursday, the 36-year-old Singaporean entrepreneur disclosed plans to set up one Geek Terminal outlet each in Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, India, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sydney, London and New York by 2011.
Its first three overseas outlets will be in KL, Shanghai and India, and they could open for business in a year’s time, said Mr Lee.
‘We plan to be in KL because of its proximity to Singapore, while India and Shanghai are up-and-coming nearby cities with great opportunities.’
Geek Terminal will adopt a business model that incorporates a franchising component, where the company will co-own and co-manage its overseas branches together with their franchise owners, Mr Lee said.
Each branch is expected to need $1 million to kickstart, a figure which includes six months of initial operating expenses, he added.
Mr Lee said he expects the restaurant’s yearly revenue to grow at 10-15 per cent.
Geek Terminal was founded by Mr Lee, an IT and construction industry veteran; Danny Pang, 38, a certified barista trainer and ex-military officer; and Nooraliza Abu Bakar, 45, an architect.
The restaurant opened for business at Market Street in Raffles Place last May.
Positioned as an upmarket, high-tech meeting place for businesses and mobile workers, it combines a cafe, business centre, private meeting rooms, a venue to host events, and high-tech product showrooms.
It offers cafe-wide power plug access for laptop users, as well as printing, faxing, broadband surfing and other business centre services.
Airline check-in and a variety of hotel concierge- type services are expected to be upcoming services.
On pursuing such an aggressive growth strategy, Mr Lee concedes that it may seem overly-ambitious for a relatively new restaurant business.
However, he said that overseas expansion has been on the cards from day one, and is a vital ingredient for Geek Terminal’s growth.
‘Our business model is not built for just one outlet – we can’t just stay put or we will be like just another F&B outlet,’ he said.
Having a network of business centres located in major cities, which are interconnected by high-speed and highly-secured data links, will significantly boost Geek Terminal’s appeal as a meeting place for businesses and mobile workers, he explained.
A company operating in, say, Shanghai and Singapore could use Geek Terminal cafes in both cities to regularly conduct long-distance meetings, he said.
In these sessions, executives can tap the cafe’s broadband networks to carry out interactive whiteboarding and video-conferencing. This will be much cheaper than leasing full-fledged offices.
‘This is a growing market, given that many businesses are downsizing their offices today,’ he said.
Opening up more overseas branches will also boost Geek Terminal’s ties with its technology partners, he said.
Visit the Geek Terminal website: http://www.geekterminal.com