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Entrepreneurs / Internet / Marketing

This Delaware entrepreneur used to run an ISP out of his home

Three hundred phone lines in a closet. “It was a little hairy,” said eZanga founder Rich Kahn.

At SXSW from left: Technical.ly's Christopher Wink, ROAR for Good's Yasmine Mustafa, ReviewTrackers's Emily Pamukov, Galvanize's Lawrence Mendes. (Screenshot)

Delawareans might recognize local digital veteran Rich Kahn as the founder of Middletown-based marketing firm eZanga. Kahn started the business about 12 years ago when he developed a network that allowed him to collect existing web traffic, run it through a filtration system, tie it to an ad center and sell that clean, prefiltered traffic to businesses.
What began as $5,000 in bootstrapped funds has matured into a 40 employee-strong business reeling in 2 billion queries a day. Developing the technology that allowed eZanga to flourish back in the early 2000s was Kahn’s first major success, but it was far from his first tech rodeo.

kahn

Rich Kahn. (Photo via LinkedIn)


Kahn has a history with tech and entrepreneurship that many Delawareans might not recognize him for.
“I’ve been a developer since I was nine,” said Kahn. In 1984, at age 12, Kahn had his first game published.
Fast forward to 1993. Kahn launched an internet and technology news e-magazine called InterExchange. Kahn published the newsletter for three years, managing to garner over 150,000 subscribers before ceasing publication in 1996. Why?
Because Kahn had his hands full running an internet service provider out of a closet in his home.
“It was a little hairy,” Kahn laughed.
It took a month for Verizon to install the 300 lines, but they did it.
“They had to go from my house a mile and a half down the road to the location where everything was stored and wired up,” he said. “They had to dig up the ground, re-support all the phone lines and telephone poles. When it was all said and done, we had a closet with 300 phone lines in it.”
Kahn became founder and CEO of The First Street Corporation, which offered web hosting, dialup service, circuits and support to clients. Kahn serviced the servers himself, developed the company website himself, managed and maintained the equipment and entire network by himself — essentially, Kahn himself was an ISP.
In May of 2000, Kahn sold the ISP to Frontline Commmunications.
“When we sold the house it was kind of interesting,” he said. “I said [to the buyers], ‘Well, no matter how many kids you have, they can all have their own phone lines.'”

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