404 esports- and gaming lounge in Milano, the best error ever!
There are 4 esportsbars in Milan, all nicely divided in every of the 4 sections. 404 is the one you can find in the south of Milan in the nightlife district. 404 Is the message you get when an error occurs online. I really like this name and the bar is the best error ever.
Damiano, who is the (co) owner of 404 wanted to make this bar a home for the people who come here. Their logo is: “make this inn your home” and his goal is to get people together and bound with each other. As he says it: ‘if you want to go out, but don’t want to go out you can come here and chill out.’
Talking to some of the people that come here makes it clear his set up has worked. They all basically say:’ if you have nowhere else to go, or don’t want to do anything, but don’t want to be alone, you can always come here and feel good’. At the same time, nobody that was there seemed to be the type that has ‘no place else to go’. It was a happy bunch, all eating, drinking, singing and playing, staying till it was closing time. During the day, people mainly game in to play a game, have a (small) talk and a drink and then head home (or school or work).
Again, this esports bar owner has a university degree. This time it’s political science, international and European relationships. It is his passion for technology (and gaming of course) that made him decide to open an esportscafé. However, the bar had to be in correspondence with something else he loves: bringing people together and make them feel good.
Esports in Italy is only just happening in the way that the large public is opening up to esports. Since 2015 the esportsbars have doubled and business is interested in connecting to esports. 404 Has 7 sponsors, apart from the obvious Red Bull and Monster who always seem to sponsor every bar I’ve been at so far.
On Tuesdays 404 has their cartoon karaoke evenings where you can sing cartoon songs and guess what night I was there! It was cool. It started of quiet, 1 person singing, then the next one. 1 Hour in, there’s 2 people signing together, building up to 3 and after a couple of hours, everybody in the bar was standing in front of the screen singing the lyrics together, arm in arm. It had nothing to do with alcohol cause they weren’t drinking excessively, it had everything to do with fun and being together. Find out what that looks like: will upload the link when I get electricity.
In the weekends, 404 organizes tournaments against other esportsbars in Italy and 1 night a month it’s old school night where you can play Tetris and other old school games on old school equipment.
Having 7 sponsors, I asked him how he got them, since some bars seem to have trouble finding even 1 or 2. He said the best thing to do is write to companies, either on facebook or through email. He found facebook more effective. It’s important to have a solid business plan and a good way to present yourself and your ideas, as well as a precise purpose, but most of all, keep on writing. Even when it takes you a 100 messages, in the end, you will get result. You sometimes get the choice between a one time sponsorship on for example the pc’s which you can get at a low price or pay more for the pc’s but get promotional products sent to you on a regular basis, which you can use as give-aways at your events.
Damiano is a relaxed and (for an Italian😊), somewhat quiet person. I watched him for 2 nights in his 404. While all the people that are there are busy talking to each other, having fun and making noise, he’s overseeing it all and thoroughly enjoying the fact that they’re feeling good and he’s providing them a warm place to come to. Of course he engages with them too, they all seem to be his friends, but most of all he’s a welcoming and affectionate man with a bar, where you can come to play games, sing cartoon songs and meet equally minded people.
The interview with Damiano can be found here: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/160330161