Crystal Ball - Dario's Move to Spain

Published on 22/04/2007 in Real Life Stories

 This article was submitted as part of Eye on Spain's campaign to help promote new businesses in Spain.  If you are starting a new business in Spain then click here for more details. 

This article was submitted by Dario R Melkuhn of  About Dario:

My name is Dario Renato Melkuhn. I served my time in my formative years as a mechanical engineer, then as electrical and electronic engineer, spent some time in the army leaving at the rank of sergeant. I have been in the IT sector for 25 years working for various companies in support and consultancy, culminating as Head of IT for the Systems Division of TDK. I have a Masters in Business Administration and a PhD in Psychology. I moved to Albir, Spain in January to start a new printer ink cartridge refilling business. I bought an internet café as I anticipated that this would be good positioning for the new business. We do a full range of services from design to printing, support and repairs, web design and web hosting. There is a bar area to relax in and of course the printer ink refilling business. We also do a commercial and residential property finding service which is free to clients with a host of hand holding and support.


Five years of planning and research, what could go wrong? Well just about anything and everything because Murphy has this funny law that says if it can, it will.

The beginning. I new I wanted to move to Spain. I came here back at the beginning of 2000 and have been coming regularly since, but how was I going to do it. I started applying for jobs in Spain but the problem was I did not speak any Spanish. So I started taking Spanish lessons, but with my hectic schedule I could only do one hour a week so every new lesson we spent the first half hour covering what we had done in the last half hour of the previous lesson.

Finally I was able to take an eight week break and did a language course in Barcelona, which incidentally is my favourite city, this gave my Spanish language a big boost but still not good enough to secure a job that paid enough. So, if I wanted to move to Spain I had to re-think my options.

If no one was going to employ me because of my lack of Spanish I would employ myself. I mean it would be a lot easier to learn Spanish if I was there.wouldn't it?

So I started looking at business for sale and OH MY GOD there are so many bars for sale.

My preferred location was Barcelona as I know the city very well and already have friends there but the costs in Barcelona were to high. I did not really want to be on the Costa de Sol and my friends in Barcelona were advising me to look around Valencia and Alicante and costs were better within the Costa Blanca.

As much as I would have liked to have been in a full Spanish community I knew realistically that my Spanish was not good enough so I had to compromise. The business, what ever it was had to be in a location were English was spoken and with an English speaking client base and this led on to another question.What business?

I won't bore you with the process of selecting the type of business but after narrowing everything down I initially looked at taking on a printer ink refilling franchise, but I mean who wants to invest all that money on something that is not 100% yours and you take all the risks.

But it was educational speaking with the franchisers and the type of business looked extremely promising. However, after much research, many phone calls and meetings I managed to source everything I needed direct from the manufacturers at a fraction of the cost.

The next step..Now I had decided on the type of business I still needed a location, also I thought it better if possible to buy an existing business where I could slot the printer ink refilling in. This would give me some income while I established the new business.

After much searching and deliberation I made the decision on the internet café if it panned out on an inspection visit.

So at last, in November, with my house finally sold and money in the bank. I made the trip to look at the internet café and four other potential businesses on my shortlist. After arriving in Spain and looking at the various businesses the internet café had everything I thought I was looking for. Also there was a good ex-pat community where English was widely spoken.

So the money was paid the deeds signed and I was the owner of an internet café business now I had to return to the UK and arrange for everything to come to Spain.

Finally. On January 8th with my belongings packed in a large van and my car I set off to start my new life, coming with me were my son and his girlfriend.

We arrived back on the 11th January late at night, while I was here in November I had also managed to rent an apartment so we did have somewhere to live.

Next day we went to the business to check it all over and to my horror when I lifted the phone at the business the telephone line was giving that single tone that in the UK means the line is disconnected but in Spain is the normal dialling tone..It took me a week to find that out.

Anyway, the second week we finally opened for business two weeks later we were closed again to have the premises refurbished.

It was supposed to have taken one week, it actually took six weeks, six weeks of no income and much spending although to be honest it could have cost me three times as much but I had befriended my business neighbour who is an architect and Spanish, He did all the plans for me and dealt with the council all at no cost and managed to get me the best deals on much that I needed.

I have made it my task to get to know as many people as possible and by luck or design I have got to know some excellent people, one in particular who was a customer and is now a very special friend has taken me out and been introducing me to some of the main leading people in the ex-pat community.

It is now the middle of April and we have been open for 6 weeks. The bank balance is very low. But the customer base is getting stronger and the word is, in the 6 weeks we have been open we have built ourselves a good reputation.

The future..Well! I don't posses a crystal ball; even if I did I wouldn't know how to use it. It will probably be a close run thing which happens first, the bank balance disappearing or the income starting to match the expenditure.

One thing for sure, we have a great community supporting us and wanting us to succeed. I have made some fantastic friends and I don't want to go back to the UK.

There is not enough room here to say everything; I could probably write a book about all this.If I had the time.

Oh by the way I can hear you asking "But where is he". Well I am in Albir, Alfaz del Pi, about 15 minutes drive north of Benidorm.

So if you want to move to Spain. Come and look me up in the Albir Cyber Bar, use our internet, relax and have a drink and I will tell you a tale or two. I will give you some sound advice and if you still want to come to this great place I can help find you a place, a business and help you through some of the red tape and all you have to pay for is the drink and using the internet.

Written by: Dario R Melkuhn

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Ali said:
16 December 2010 @ 20:55

Dear Dario,
Nice to read about your set up. And I pray for your business boost. I'm much interested to open Cyber Cafe in Spain. I'm from France. Please reply me with important steps to taken like Location of shop & other costs etc.
Anxiously awaiting,

Mark K said:
23 November 2009 @ 02:11

Hi Dario,

I hope your business venture is still going strong. It was inspiring for me to read it as I have the same desire - to open an internet cafe in Spain. If possible can you email me as I would like to get some advice from you. Basic information like the realistic costs of such a venture. And I promise not to open up shop down the road from you :-)

Email: livetrading(at)hotmail(dot)com

Mark K.

lulacat said:
25 May 2007 @ 01:12

Hello Dario,
Enjoyed reading about your move to Albir! Im in La Nucia and work as a vocalist in Benidorm, and was really interested to read about the ink cartridge refills. I use a lot of ink, what with Posters, publicity etc. and also know a lot of Acts that would be interested, as the price of ink cartridges here is very high. Can you tell me whereabouts in Albir the Cyber bar is?
Kind regards

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