By PlanetLaundry staff | Dec 19, 2011
Stepbrothers Calvin Kline and Alex Blust want to take the internet to the people – one laundromat at a time.
According to a recent article by Val Prevish at Cincinnati.com, the two have launched Everybodys Internet, a Cincinnati-based internet café concept created to place computers within self-service laundries and other public places where people find themselves with time on their hands.
“More people are having trouble affording computers in this economy,” said Kline, whose new venture currently features nearly 400 computers active in 170 locations in eight states. “We saw a very strong need for this concept.”
Users can purchase cards from a vending machine that allow access in 30- or 90-minute increments, costing $1 or $2 respectively.
“We wanted to make this affordable,” said Blust, who hatched the idea while working as a hotel manager. “We wanted it to be a community resource. Employees frequently asked to use the hotel computers because they did not have their own.
“The laundromat idea came to us because we figured if people didn’t have a washing machine, it was likely they didn’t have a computer. They also have a lot of time to sit and wait and use the internet.”
Although Blust came up with the concept in early 2008, Kline runs the business’ day-to-day operations.
To enable their expansion, Kline is now in the process of hiring a network of distributors across the country for what he envisions as 110 markets based in major metropolitan areas with a goal of 45,000 active computers in the next five years.
Distributors who pay “approximately $15,000” to Everybodys Internet are supplied with all of the computer equipment needed, including repairs and replacements. The laundry owner is required to provide an internet connection.
Half of the revenue from the computers goes to the laundry owner, while Everybodys Internet and the distributor split the other half, according to Kline.
Dan Wente co-owns five self-service laundries in the Cincinnati area, and his stores were the first to include computers from Everybodys Internet.
“This is really something to keep our customers coming back,” Wente explained. “I’ve always had TV and video games for customers, but this seemed like a good extension. For less than the cost of a video game or a movie, they can get 90 minutes of entertainment or information.”
About a dozen computers in three of Wente’s Super Laundry locations generate roughly 500 to 600 hours of use per month and a total of approximately $1,000 in monthly revenue, he said.
Wente added that he’s heard some of his customers say the store’s computers are more convenient than other public-access internet locations such as the library.
“One guy even came in and worked all night to get some certification done for his job,” Wente recalled. “Since we are open 24 hours a day, there is no limit to the time they can get on the computers.”