When you put two friends and Tesla owners together, you get TesBros, a Chattanooga-based online retail store specializing in Tesla accessories. Over the last couple of years, Ji Heo and his business partner have capitalized on the smartest car ever made. During the pandemic, they boosted their sales by 400%, making this year the best one yet. We sat down with Heo to discuss how he made his daydream into a day job.
TREND: So, why did you decide to open TesBros?
Heo: I was sitting in traffic, going to work in Atlanta and a product idea came up while daydreaming. The recently released Tesla Model 3 didn't have door handles inside, so it was difficult for folks who've never been in a Tesla to understand how to exit. There wasn't a label or anything.
So, I thought it'd be neat if there was an icon, at least for the door button. I visited two craft stores, JOANN and Michaels, after work and started learning about vinyl materials. I ended up getting a Cricut machine (plotter) and started experimenting and learning. I reached out to my childhood friend to see if he wanted to partner up and see if it was viable. He was in and TesBros (formerly TeslaBros) was born.
TREND: What makes the TesBros experience unique?
Heo: We are a customer-centric company. We keep the customer in mind in every step of the process – design, packaging, marketing and support. We make it a point to continue listening to the customer and take new challenges, so we can evolve and strengthen those relationships. As an example, we're now in the process of opening up a wrap shop due to several requests we've received. We're now 3M certified for Paint Protection Film, tint, color-changing vinyl and ceramic coating, so we can be the one-stop-shop for all protection and personalization needs for Tesla owners.
TREND: As an entrepreneur, what would you say is the hardest part of running a business?
Heo: Delegating – I'm learning you hit a ceiling real quick if you try to do it all by yourself. We're building a team so we can scale and get to new heights.
TREND: What did you do before starting your company?
Heo: I was an instructional assistant professor at the University of Mississippi teaching journalism and marketing courses. JP, my business partner, was an entrepreneur and was in a transition period from a failed venture, in search of a new one.
TREND: Why did you open TesBros in Chattanooga of all places?
Heo: I knew I was leaving my professor job at the University of Mississippi. I thought I wanted to go out West to California, but my wife thought otherwise. We visited Chattanooga a while back when we were still dating and we loved it. So we visited again and we knew immediately it would be a great fit for us. She ended up getting a job at the hospital and I was flexible since I was an e-commerce entrepreneur. We love it here.
TREND: Are your clients local, or do they come from everywhere?
Heo: We've shipped to all 50 states and all over the world from Dubai to Morocco. We've shipped to 30+ countries so far.
TREND: Your business has grown during COVID-19. Why do you think that is?
Heo: Since COVID, we grew over 400%. Right when COVID started becoming serious, JP and I immediately had a meeting about how we were going to move forward. There was a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, but we laid out what was controllable and executed on that. That set us up for success through the pandemic.
TREND: Do you have a Tesla? If so, what model?
Heo: Yes, we own a Tesla Model 3, Model Y and a Model S.
TREND: What’s your favorite Tesla accessory?
Heo: I love the Chrome Delete Kit. The chrome delete kit blacks out all the chrome times on a Tesla. It gives it a much more aggressive look.
TREND: What inspires you to go to work every day?
Heo: Growing up, we didn't have much financially, but I was lucky enough to have parents who valued education. That set me up with a good foundation to navigate the entrepreneur world. We want to touch lives by educating people and equipping them with the tools they need to succeed. This mission is still being formed, but that gets me pumped in the morning to go to work.
TREND: What's a fun fact about you?
Heo: I was ranked 442 in the world for tennis during my junior career.
Visit TesBros here to learn more about its history, inventory and mission.