Turn5 president & CEO Steve Voudouris (left) and Turn5 executive marketing director Andrew Voudouris (right). Image via Turn5.
Not many people can say they started a successful business in high school, but brothers Andrew and Steve Voudouris can actually boast that Turn5 — what they launched in 2004 when they were 17 and 15 — is now one of the fastest-growing e-commerce companies in the Philadelphia region. The Malvern-based company’s three brands — AmericanMuscle.com, ExtremeTerrain.com, AmericanTrucks.com — are a haven for car enthusiasts looking to stock up on fun parts (think special headlights, souped up steering wheels, and fancy bumper covers) for their Mustangs, Jeeps and trucks. The founders say what sets Turn5 apart in the automotive aftermarket industry is the platform’s ability to foster a community of learners through the convergence of auto experts and technology. The company recently secured $611,000 in state credits to expand to new headquarters in Paoli this fall, adding 200 more jobs (by 2020) to its team that currently stands at almost 400. Fresh off of their EY Entrepreneur of the Year win, the brothers tell BizPhilly why Turn5 is experiencing so much growth and how they plan to do more in the Philly tech community. They’re already involved with Coded by Kids and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and without ever getting college degrees of their own, they’ve awarded $44,000 in college scholarships to teens across the region. The brothers tell me why school wasn’t for them and get into the nitty-gritty of running their operation at the ages of 32 and 30 now. (Warning: This interview may make you want to buy a Jeep.)
We grew up in … Delaware County about a half hour outside of Philadelphia and went to Marple Newtown High School in Newtown Square.
A story that best describes our sibling relationship … goes back to 1992 when we were 6 and 8 years old. Nintendo released a game called Contra, and before we knew it, we were saving the world from aliens. He’d shoot up into the right, and I’d shoot down into the left to get the bad guys on that side. That was the beginning of our divide and conquer scheme.
We decided to get into business together because … we were bored with high school, nerdy, bad at sports and into technology. High school was not our favorite place to be.
We became interested in tech because … it was the early 2000s and tech was all the rage. The dot-com bubble. Everything in the news was about tech, and it was hard to not be excited about how things were changing. I remember in fifth grade having a computer, a 66K modem and dial-up. You could download a song, but you had to start it before you went to bed and hopefully it was done in the morning. And then DSL came out. Everything was just changing so fast, and we wanted to be a part of it.
We got into cars when … I (Steve) got my first car in 2001, a V6 Mustang. That’s what got me into it. It became a lot more fun when the business started to do a bit better. We could have a lot more fun. I bought a 2007 Mustang G2 and supercharged it and had a great time with it. But I’d say we’re more of a tech company than we are a car company.
We started Turn5 because … the automotive market at the time was prime for being disrupted by technology. People were ordering out of catalogues and mailing checks halfway across the country, and that was an opportunity. In 2004, having a website and allowing consumers to order online, and setting up tracking numbers—it was an industry that was behind the times. That excited us because we were so interested in technology and so interested in e-commerce. Read more »