Philadelphia-area Xoxide Inc. owners are the SBA’s 2009 National Young Entrepreneurs of the Year
> > > I recently wrote my first article for Keystone Edge, an online magazine based right here in Philadelphia. However, Keystone Edge actually covers the emerging economy throughout the entire state of Pennsylvania, as well as the creative (and quite often young) entrepreneurs who fuel that economy. It’s owned and operated by the Detroit-based Issue Media Group, an online publishing company with a fantastically smart business model, and about ten websites under its belt. One of those sites, by the way, is the exceptionally well-edited Pop City Media, which covers the emerging econony in Pittsburgh, and which I wrote for back in November 2007. Pop City Media also covered the release of Moon Handbooks Pittsburgh, the city guide I wrote for Avalon Travel Publishing, and which I’ll be updating sometime next year.
The Millionaire Boys Club: The story of Malvern, Pa.-based Xoxide is that rare tale of three high school computer whizzes making millions; it is a tale of computer shells, tachometers, blow driers, bird cages, and after-market Ford Mustang parts. [Link to Keystone Edge]
> > > For Keystone Edge, I wrote about the fascinating Xoxide Inc., an 80-employee company based in the Philly suburbs. (The company’s name, by the way, is pronounced ex-oxide.) From the outside looking in, Xoxide doesn’t necessarily come across as a particularly interesting organization. It’s basically an online retail company that sells a wide range of fairly standard products, such as beauty supplies, truck and car parts, and computer cases, from about eight different websites.
But the company has an especially fascinating twist: It was launched about ten years ago by three teen-aged high school boys. Two of them, Chris Francy and Steve Voudouris, were both 17 years old at the time. The other founder, Andrew Voudouris (Steve’s brother), was 15 years old. The company cleared more than $1.1 million in 2002, which was its second year of operation. At the time, Xoxide was operating entirely out of the home where Steve and Andrew lived with their parents. The company’s inventory was stashed in nearly every room of the house, as well as in the backyard. The garage doubled as a workshop. And as the company continued to grow and grow, the three founders would go off to school in the morning while a half-dozen employees, most of them middle-aged men, would come to work at Steve and Andrew’s house during the day. The kitchen, of course, doubled as a break room.
Incredibly, Xoxide’s bottom line grew with each successive year. Its 2004 revenue was $5 million. Its 2007 revenue (brace yourself) was $19.1 million. Today, Andrew Voudouris is just 22 years old. Chris Francy and Steve Voudouris are both in their mid-20s. And yes, they eventually moved out of mom and dad’s house and into a 45,000 square-foot building with an attached warehouse. This year, during the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Small Business Week (May 17-19, 2009), the three founders of Xoxide were named the 2009 National Young Entrepreneurs of the Year during an award ceremony in Washington, D.C.
> > > About the photography: Photographer Jeff Fusco shot all the photos accompanying my article on the Keystone Edge site, including the photo I’ve posted above, which shows the three Xoxide founders standing inside a truck that was in the process of being filled with some of their many products. Check out Jeff Fusco’s impressive photography portfolio on his website, www.JeffFusco.net. You’ll probably recognize at least a few of the fascinating characters there. (Some of Jeff’s clients include Philadelphia magazine; the New York Daily News; Getty Images; Philadelphia Weekly; and US Air.)
> > > As you’ve probably already guessed, Xoxide is a retail company that succeeds — in part — because it offers high-quality products at a reasonable price. It also ships those products very quickly, and for free. Naturally, a few of the various other reasons for the company’s success are a bit more complicated. To offer just one example, Xoxide seems to have somehow mastered the all but impossible-to-master online game of search engine optimization (SEO), for one. But after brushing aside all the Byzantine matters of online sales and marketing, what’s left is a company that sells a helluva lotta good stuff, and gets it to your doorstep quickly. So with that sentiment in mind, if you’ve got an AmEx card that’s currently burning a hole in your wallet, here are seven of the Xoxide “stores” you might want to visit, presented in alphabetical order:
- AmericanMuscle.com (Car parts for Ford Mustangs)
- AmericanTrucks.com (After-market truck parts)
- AquariumGuys.com (For fish fiends)
- BirdGuys.com (For your feathered friends)
- CorvetteGuys.com (After-market Corvette parts)
- Misikko.com (Women’s beauty supplies)
- Xoxide.com (Computer supplies & gaming gear)
Follow that story: Incidentally, Xoxide hasn’t enjoyed much attention from the press over the past decade or so of its existence. But winning the 2009 SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year Champion Award has reversed that trend slightly. You can read what the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Mike Armstrong had to say about the company in a recent PhillyInc. column. Brian McCollough of the Daily Local News, a regional newspaper serving Pennsylvania’s Chester County, also covered the story.
Music Note: On a somewhat unrelated note, Keystone Edge’s editor, John Davidson, heads up a fantastic Americana/roots music band called The New Time. Fans of very early American blues will absolutely love these guys, as will most fans of the modern alt-country/y’alternative sound, as documented in the late, great, and very much missed No Depression magazine. You can learn about The New Time and listen to some of its music at newtimemusic.com. Davidson has graciously posted MP3s on his MySpace page as well, which can be accessed at myspace.com/johndavidson. Enjoy.