Cheap & Easy

Medium Octane

How one entrepreneur filled up at the PC pump

When it was time for Andre Charland, 21, to outfit his six-employee office with PCs, he was more than happy to travel down the middle of the road. "We don't need high-end graphics and video, but we didn't want our systems to be obsolete overnight," explains the CEO and owner of, which spent an average of $1,700 per system, including monitors.

Charland powers his Vancouver company, an ASP for small and midsized businesses, with a typical configuration for each PC: a 600MHz processor, a 20GB hard drive, 128MB RAM, a 17-inch monitor and a network card connected to cable Internet access. You won't find any brand names hanging around under the desks. "We went with clones to keep our costs lower and get higher-quality internal components and greater flexibility with configuration," Charland says.

What else did Charland purchase? Micron laptops for field sales agents, a Hewlett-Packard black-and-white laser printer ("Which is great," he says), a color bubble jet ("Which is horrible," he says), a couple of Umax scanners and a great little Sony digital camera that he uses for everything from e-commerce product shots to company parties. While Charland points to the bubble jet as the worst part of the computer outfitting experience, he's happy to note, "The most fun has to be the officewide network video games-great stress relief!"

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This article was originally published in the May 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Cheap & Easy.

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