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April - 2000 - issue > Cover Feature
Salim-Kara
Friday, November 21, 2008
Age 49 years
Place of Birth Zanzibar, Tanzania

Residence Toronto, Canada

Family Married with three children (26, 21 & 10)

Came to the U.S. 1991

Education Refrigeration Engineering

First career Refrigeration & air conditioning engineer

Company started E-Stamp, 1994

Year did an IPO 1999

Year became millionaire 1995

Favorite charity Aga Khan Foundation

Lifetime goals Helping the needy in the developing countries

Net worth Prefer not to discuss

Philosophy of life Every deed is returned a thousand fold, good or bad.

Most inspired by People who help others

Most excited by Technology!

Most expensive thing ever bought My new house.

Salim Kara’s grandparents left native Gujarat in the nineteenth century and settled on the islands of Zanzibar in Africa. Kara was born in this Tanzanian province, as were his parents, but he grew up and studied in Dar-es-Salaam, the Tanzanian capital, where his parents had moved soon after their wedding.

“I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth,” Kara says, “but I definitely grew up with one in my mouth.” Life was good, with plenty of time for friends and family. Years later, Kara says every single day he calls his sister in England, and touches the feet of his mother in traditional greeting, no matter who else may be around.

The young Kara went to engineering school in Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania and in 1974 migrated to Toronto, where he started a refrigeration business. It was not cutting-edge technology, but Kara was fascinated by computers and it is this that led him to Silicon Valley fame and fortune.

Annoyed by the need to send out a staff to get refills on postage meter, a task that reportedly took half a day, Kara resolved to find a PC-based solution. In less than a year, he did. In 1994, he secured several patents on a PC-rendered postage stamp. With the Internet fast emerging, Kara fashioned the PC stamp into an Internet stamp and renamed his company E-Stamp Corporation.

Still, Kara struggled for several years to roll out the first Internet stamp. He had to convince the United States Postal Service that the new form of postage would fulfill its every security consideration; and in so doing he got stuck with the design of a “postage vault.”

E-Stamp also suffered management shakeups. By the time E-Stamp’s product hit the market in the middle of 1999, Kara was no longer part of the management team even though he and his family still hold a lot of stock.

But Kara is getting right back into the same business. His new company, Kara Technology, appears poised to give E-Stamp, and Stamps.com, the other firm in the Internet stamp business, a run for their money.

Kara recently announced the development of an Internet stamp that will be as easy to adhere to envelopes as the physical ones. Consequently, Kara is targeting the consumer market first rather than the business-to-business market that current Internet stamp companies target. The company later expects to sell stamps to businesses.

And that’s not all. Kara’s company has focused on a broader range of consumer e-commerce products and recently announced applications that will enable online use of financial instruments such as money orders and traveler’s checks.

As a determined Kara has pursued the rapid development of new technologies, as well as taking Kara Technology public this year, he has had to pay a price too.

His family has relocated to Toronto and even though Kara manages to fly home on the weekends, “it can be such a long flight.”

Bala Murali Krishna

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