St. Games Café co-founders shared how they turned their hobbies to a gaming start-up.
Since our last interview in 2010 with Lee Ming Wei and Lee Teck Hou, the duo have transformed their small gaming café at Novena Square Two into a larger and brighter space at The Cathay.
The co-founders of St. Games Café have also since expanded their business, going beyond welcoming walk-in customers at their physical store, to engaging in sponsorships and tie-ups with other popular brands such as Gong Cha or FreeingSG.
Last week, Youth.SG caught up with the two gaming café owners to find out what it is like working in the dynamic gaming industry.
Tell us more about yourselves!
Ming Wei: I am a coffee addict – my dad first fed me coffee when I was seven and I guess that was when it all started. My favourite go-to coffee is kopi siu dai mai la (coffee with milk, less sweet, and don’t stir it!).
How and why did you both become a gaming café owner?
Teck Hou: We were both avid casual gamers back then, and we wanted to be our own bosses. That’s why we thought we could start something in this field. Also, Ming Wei had worked in a gaming shop before, so he had some exposure in this industry.
How has this industry changed throughout these years?
Ming Wei: We definitely see more casual gamers now than before, especially since many games are now played on mobile. It’s good for us – this makes it easier for us to promote gaming as a healthy and wholesome activity for all. Just look at how Pokémon GO has made everyone leave home and exercise!
However, the prevalence of mobile games also means we have to craft out with even more attractive programmes and packages to sustain gamers’ interests.
What are some challenges you face as a gaming café owner?
Ming Wei: Working in this field means dealing with different types of challenges. It can be manpower issues, or the lack of walk-in customers. The latter is our current challenge, as the rise in sub-urban malls means it is harder to drive traffic to The Cathay.
Teck Hou: To mitigate these issues, we try to come up with different strategies. We are currently working on strategic collaborations and cross-promotions with other brands, and also going for university sponsorships to attract students.
Is there anything you don’t like about your job?
Ming Wei: Not getting to enjoy public holidays such as Christmas or New Year, as those are our busiest days.
Teck Hou: Meeting unreasonable clients. They can be very demanding and harsh. However, getting to work with different kinds of people has also allowed us to gain more experience in handling customers.
What is the one memorable thing about being a gaming café owner?
Ming Wei: The first year was the most memorable. We had to run and operate the café all by ourselves, manage ground operations, and rotate cashier duties daily. However, we were in touch [more] with our customers – we even became friends with some of them!
What motivates you in your work?
Teck Hou and Ming Wei: Seeing satisfied customers have fun through the services we have designed and provided for them. This motivates us to work even harder to offer better and improved services for them.
What advice would you give to youths considering a career as a gaming entrepreneur?
Ming Wei: Regardless of the field you are in, know that you will definitely face failures as an entrepreneur. The way you treat these challenges is important, as they will form the basis of your foundation. This will eventually propel you to bigger things in the future.
Keep in mind that you level up with every failure, so that you can come back stronger than before.
|Educational requirements: None, as long as you are passionate about gaming.
Qualities needed: You have to be adaptable, creative, and hardworking.
Salary range: The starting pay is about $1,600 to $2,500 monthly.
Working hours: Depends on your job scope, but regular retail hours are from 10am to 10pm.
Career prospects: With experience, you can venture into doing events and marketing for big names such as Razer, Sony, or Microsoft Xbox.
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