Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder and owner of easyJet, is setting up a chain of 24-hour cyber cafes to meet the ever increasing demand from the public at large to access the internet. Up to £10 million will be invested in order to open 20 cafes in the centre of London within the next two years. Recruitment for the company will start immediately with the first cafe opening in six months.

easyCafe will be driven by the commercial expertise and brand recognition which have been developed by easyJet. To date, cyber cafes have been run on an individual basis by enthusiasts. The result has been that they remain as one-off businesses which are geared to computer “nerds.” easyCafe will have the critical mass through commercial backing combined with the ability to appeal direct to the consumer which will make easyCafe a business for the new millennium.

Latent demand for access to the internet for news, information and e-commerce (shopping on the internet) is enormous, but certain barriers to entry still persist. Consumers are unwilling to invest significant sums of money to go on-line at home for fear that their software and hardware will rapidly become outdated, for the lack of technical back-up at home, and on the basis that those consumers who do have home computers tend to use them for an average of only 10 minutes a day. easyCafe will provide the in-house specialisation to ensure that going on-line is effortless and affordable.

easyCafe will also serve coffee to maximise the comfort of going on-line. This will also meet the growing demand for coffee in Europe and will mirror the hugely successful Starbucks chain of cafes in America.

“Your local easyCafe will be the place to go to find out anything you ever wanted to know. The information will be real-time, customised and affordable,” said Stelios Haji-Ioannou. “I was very encouraged by Peter Mandelson’s call for the spread of the internet and I’m convinced that making it available on the high street at the cost of a cup of coffee is the easiest way of getting the masses on-line. Home computing is far too expensive and complicated for the average consumer. In the same way that I made flying available to all people, I want to make the internet available to everyone,” he continued.