The PC gaming system builder is back – its transformation from High Street store to etailer and supplier is complete. PCR spends a day with the team at its new office to discuss how it’s shaking up retail, what it’s like working under Centerprise and why building a PC is like driving a car...
As I enter the nice normal-looking head office of IT service provider Centerprise and turn the corner into YoYoTech’s department, it’s like switching on a video game and escaping from reality.
Excuse me, for I seem to have wrongly described this as a department. This is not a department – it’s a den, a cave of gaming wonders filled with high-tech desktop computers around the room.
Military-style camouflage netting covers the ceiling and parts of the wall, oil drums litter the corners and a PC gaming driving seat with three monitors takes centre stage at one end of the room.
A man wearing a bright green YoYoTech T-shirt is sitting behind the wheel, trying to beat the fastest lap time in an F1 game.
YoYoTech’s MD CK approaches me with a warm smile and handshake. “They call this R&D – I call it skipping work!” he jokes.
The driver in the seat is Janusz, one of the original members of the team who worked with CK in the old store at Tottenham Court Road. In fact, all four are back helping to drive YoYoTech forwards as both an etailer and trade supplier, with the financial backing of Centerprise.
It’s Janusz’ job to make high-end gaming machines – including YoYoTech’s killer £8,000 XDNA Aurum 2K beast – and to find ways of making them even faster. We walk to an adjacent room where some of the systems are built and I’m introduced to the rest of the team.
“We’re like family,” CK says, standing next to a huge pile of boxed components and a row of near-finished PCs. “My team come up with some brilliant results. They have that experience with the face-to-face customer and they’re bringing that to online now.”
MOVING UP A GEAR
Today YoYoTech is building and shipping PCs out to consumers, supplying other retailers and is now allowing customers to come in and buy from its new trade counter.
“Our major aim is to grow the brand, get as many resellers signed up as possible and to become one of the biggest known PC gaming brands out there,” CK says.
So how has working life changed now that YoYoTech is owned by Centerprise?
CK explains: “Rafi [Razzak – Centerprise owner] and I have great respect for each other. He lets us loose. He’s supporting us to make YoYoTech a bigger brand. When our shop closed, he said: ‘What the hell are you doing? The brand is strong – don’t let it go so easily’. So we restructured it as an online company.”
I ask about the funniest or strangest moments at YoYoTech. Like a true gamer, Janusz instead sees my request as a challenge. He later walks back into the room with 30 case fans connected to one another and a battery. He’s devised a PC gaming alternative to the traditional desk fan to keep everyone in the office cool, much to the amusement of his colleagues.
CK tells me some customers like to order parts and attempt to build machines themselves too, but often install CPUs incorrectly, bending the pins. “The PC is no different to buying a car,” CK concludes. “You can put a car together yourself but it’s not going to be as good as the manufacturer’s.”
It seems competition in the UK gaming system building sector has never been as tough. But this is a race YoYoTech is determined to win.
Year established: 2002
Number of staff: Five +
Contact: 08444 822111