James Langton of No Quarter
James Langton tells BQ how his hobby of modifying bikes has led to him working with some of the world's leading bands and musicians with his bicycle modification and accessories start-up No Quarter...
James Langton launched No Quarter straight after he finished school with no more than £15 to his name. Today, he is modifying cycles for worldwide brands and producing cyclewear alongside some of the world's top musicians...
What did you do before you launched No Quarter?
I started No Quarter in 2012, straight after leaving school. The business was originally me buying and selling vintage racing bicycles from my local area.
I had adverts in local newspapers, I’d then ride around to the house and purchase the bike, before stripping and rebuilding and eventually selling on.
I then set up No Quarter Paint (still operational) which is my custom paint business, we currently deal with high-end bicycles from around the world, we also work with manufacturers and race teams.
Late last year however I introduced No Quarter Detailing, which is a whole range of premium cycle cleaning products, now in many retailers and we sell to many countries around the world through our website.
What inspired you to start up?
I feel quite guilty to say that nothing inspired me, I just think when you’re interested in something, the idea ‘pulls’ you in, you’re just there for the ride!
Ever since I was very young, I’ve always had small businesses on the side or found ways to generate an income to fund hobbies.
I have quite a child-like wonder and I’m extremely inquisitive, I love learning new things and taking calculated risks.
My immediate family have helped me build a great foundation for my ventures, their unwavering support and confidence in me has been fuel to my fire.
How would you describe your business to your grandma?
Remember the artists that were in the charts from the 1960’s – 1990’s? We’ve created official merchandise for them, in the form of cycling jerseys.
Where do you get advice, support or help?
I first speak with my family and friends, but if I need extra help solving a problem, I reach out to CEO’s or major influencers in a sector and ask them directly for help. You find people are happy to help you; all you have to do is ask.
Finance is one of the most common barriers to starting up. How did you access the finance you needed?
Ha, I started No Quarter back in 2012 with £15 in my back pocket, so I know all about how hard it can be to do things with next to no money.
It’s very easy to start a business with money, but you find it’s actually quite good to start a business with limited funds; it makes you a lot more ‘scrappy’ as you have to be resourceful to get what you want.
Truth be told, most of my ventures have been started with next to no money (no money as in quite literally £0) and it’s a case of calling someone up and selling them your vision.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Securing a deal with The Rolling Stones before my 23rd birthday has to be up there! I’m a huge fan of art, but particularly music.
I remember sitting in my car at a set of traffic lights and a Rolling Stones song came on, I then looked to my left to see the jersey we had designed, it was a great feeling.
How do you differentiate your business from others?
Our jerseys designs are unique to us, nobody else in the world produces them.
What’s it like to be your own boss?
I’m very passion driven, I work abnormal hours and I spend a lot of my time thinking and planning my new ventures, I’d be a terrible employee. What other choices do I have?!
Where do you see your business in 5 years time?
Expanding the paint shop, cycle cleaning product range and developing No Quarter Sport even further is top of the list, but I have recently taken an interest in the luxury travel and insurance sector, I’m still in the research stages…
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t wait for the right conditions to start a business, that time never comes. I also find the Internet is full of motivational quotes, inspiring social media stories and videos, which can be helpful, also business networking sites have their use, but never underestimate the value of calling someone up and asking for help, or even sitting opposite them for a coffee.
Be as resourceful as you can, the major ‘heavy lifting’ of infrastructure in many sectors is already there, so the ‘buy in’ is very low, work this to your advantage.
Starting a business can be an incredibly lonely experience; you find that often you’re working on a clear vision that only you have, so you have to be comfortable with being misunderstood for long periods of time, but in the long run you only regret the chances you didn’t take. If the business does fail, you’ll sleep well knowing that you tried, not trying in the first place can keep you awake at night.