Karim Khoury could date back his first entrepreneurial endeavors to his school years when he was once expelled for selling magazine posters to his friends. “They didn’t really encourage entrepreneurs back then,” chuckles Karim, a serial entrepreneur whose real passion is putting together the different components to form a successful venture.
He started his first company back in 2004 after graduating and working in finance. Sparkle Healthcare, as the name suggests, is a company that trades in medical and dental equipment – a long shot from the financial world.
“I had to understand the market, the players, and the technology behind this medical sector that I was not familiar with,” says Karim who, five years later, expanded his company to the KSA and then sold off his shares to his partners.
Then again, Karim ventured into something very different: “I moved back to Lebanon and dived into the banking sector. Technology was becoming more accessible at that point because of the introduction of the smart phone and it was a fertile ground for FinTech entrepreneurs. This is when we ventured into ViaMobile, the mobile payment platform and signed up with a French company who developed the technology. We created a product called ‘Symba” and started promoting it within banks. ‘Symba’ is an electronic bill presentment platform that allows you to transfer money to paypins for third parties from your phone.”
After that, Karim went on to create Interact, a company that hired a group of 15 developers to develop B2B mobile applications. Soon after, Karim realized that the mobile applications market was shifting towards products rather than development – since most business started doing their tech development in-house – and decided to focus on developing products and throwing them out in the mobile app market.
This is when Eddress was born. Eddress is an address system for the digital age, which turns long, physical addresses to a six character Eddress, a simplified way of telling the world where you are. Eddress allows you to create instant e-addresses anywhere you are, simplifying location sharing, online purchases, and even food delivery. Changing jobs or moving houses means that you get to keep the same Eddress code and just change its location, while all the parties integrated will be notified – a feature that is currently being patented for Eddress.
Karim co-founded Eddress with computer engineer Ronny Shebly who had the idea for Eddress when he was trying to order food online and had to go through the frustrating experience of entering his complex address a few times before his order went through. Rony was Karim’s partner in Interact and creating Eddress came as a natural progression of their partnership.
‘With Eddress, addresses worldwide are redefined. We’ve evolved. Everything has evolved. Evolution is key in every industry of the world. Why should we remain stuck with an ancient address system?” says Karim, who sees potential in scaling Eddress to the 150 countries that don’t have proper postal codes, in addition to developed countries: “Why don’t we translate long addresses into an ABC123 that everyone with a smart phone around the world can use?”
The ecosystem that is being created around Eddress is truly magnificent. Not only will the app be used to direct a friend to come over, but also its integration in the e-world will change the latter’s dynamics. “We will be integrating with everyone from shippers, to billers, to e-commerce companies so you can reach a point where you can pay your phone bill through Eddress,“ explains Karim, “Imagine buying something on an e-commerce website and instead of filling in a billing address, and shipping address and credit card number, you just type ABC123. You gain time, the transaction is processed faster, and the shipper is directly notified if you have moved locations.”
The uses are countless: you can create an Eddress for an event, a company, a shop, etc… and once you create this Eddress, you can share it publically with your contacts or keep it private and share it by request. You can find a friend, click on the Eddress and get directions to go to where he is located or share with third parties. The app also integrates with Uber, where you can contact Uber through the app and determine the route from your location to the designated Eddress.
The biggest challenge that Karim faces with Eddress is the capacity to develop and scale it fast enough before someone else develops something similar and scales it at a faster rate.
On the other hand, funding was not at all a challenge for him. “We haven’t had a problem with funding because we believe we have the right idea. We have a lot of investors queuing up wanting to invest with us. I have previously faced serious funding challenges in the Fintech startup, but I guess each industry has its own set of challenges and advantages,“ notes Karim.
Eddress was recently chosen to be part of WebSummit, one of the largest web conferences in the world, held in Dublin, Ireland. 200 companies are selected out of the 20,000 that submit to expose in a booth at the summit. “This actually gave us a boost knowing that we are on the right track and knowing that we have the right product. One of the investors we talked to in the summit said something very meaningful: ‘It is like putting wheels to a suitcase!’ – It is so obvious you wonder why it hasn’t been done earlier.”
Karim’s advice for anyone who wants to venture into the entrepreneurial world is: “Go for it! No worries. No concerns. There is nothing to lose! This is the mindset that you need to be in so you can give the most. If you have concerns they are going to stop you. You should not be worried about failure. I failed in 2 ventures I’ve undertaken and I’m sure I learned from these ventures much more than I’ve learned from the ones I’ve succeeded in. Throw yourself into it and enjoy the ride.”
His favorite saying is: ‘An entrepreneur is like someone jumping from a plane and building his parachute while coming down.’