The Patels Go into Computing
Instant access to information
Mr Patel has run a successful small newsagent/supermarket for several years, opening long hours and stocking a wide range of goods, including lunchtime food for the small but loyal nearby office community. Three years ago he bought the next-door building to sell more foods, but there is still some redundant space above the shop where at present his daughter, Amy, is assembling a mail-order PC that she bought in component form.
Amy Patel enjoys this, and thinks there could be scope for a business putting together custom-specification PCs. Her father agrees that there might be an opportunity - certainly there is no nearby computer shop - but he is concerned about expanding into new markets. What are the trends in PC sales? How many custom-assembled PCs are sold against off-the-shelf systems? What kind of PC sale is more profitable? How and where could he advertise a PC shop?
On a trip to the library with his grandchildren, he sees a poster advertising a half-day introduction to the library's Business Support Service. It's free, so he decides to take off time from the shop and go. He finds it answers a lot of the questions he had, and he discovers there's a dial-in service available on subscription, with an online enquiry service and an easy-to-use gateway to other relevant information sites - including the access point for the University for Industry. The cost of his subscription includes a consultation to design a business development course suited to his exact needs, drawn from courses across the country.
Dialling in from the planned PC centre above the shop, the Patels are able to get information at crucial times in their business planning process. Amy is doing courses on advanced PC engineering, direct-mail marketing, customer management, and health and safety. Most of them she does from home, but she enjoys going to the library for Learning Circle sessions and to pick up additional information. What particularly impresses the Patels is the contribution to the courses from people working in industry.
PaTech has now been trading for six months, and Amy Patel has already had to hire a student to help her process orders.