YHP Interviews James Stewart – Founder of Cyclepods
Six years ago, James had his bike stolen during his time at the university studying product design, instead of feeling sorry and sad about the decision or for himself, he did the next best thing, he decided to design an attractive, space saving, secure and sustainable bike-parking solution, which he started as his final year project.
In 2004, Cyclepod was born and James left university with a first class honours degree and a design and now he concentrates and spends his time building his company.
Give some brief background information about and what you do?
I’m 27, graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a 1st class Honours Degree in Product design. Have a passion for design and all things creative. Motivated by my company’s success but mainly the positive feedback we receive for the product and the positive impact they are having.
What inspired you to create cycle pods?
Whilst at university my bike was stolen. After looking into cycle storage I realised that no new designs had entered the market place for over 20 years. At this point I knew I could design something that would deal with today’s requirements, be constructed from sustainable materials and also have an innovative form to encourage cycling.
Is this your first business? How is it going so far?
Yes, I graduated in the July 2004, worked in a London design consultancy for 9 months, then set up Cyclepods Ltd with my partner (Natalie Connell) August 2005.
How did you finance your business?
We started with a loan from a high street bank which was backed by the government initiative called, the small firms loan guarantee. Then in 2007 we succeeded in gaining substantial investment by selling a % of the company.
Tell us about your business, what you do? What makes it different from your competitors?
We have created a range of innovative, sustainable and space saving bicycle storage products. At Cyclepods we believe that cycle storage doesn’t need to be ugly! We are the only Carbon Neutral cycle storage company and offer a range of stylish solutions all of which are manufactured from either 100% recycled or recyclable materials. All of our solutions are available in a range of different colours and finishes, ideal for different environments and advertising/branding opportunities. We believe that the use of recycled materials should not compromise quality and that bicycle parking should encourage cycling and a healthier way of life. Unlike traditional bike racks our products do not allow overcrowding and as a result do not damage bikes, making us Very bike and cyclist friendly!
What has been your most effective marketing tactic or technique?
Our best marketing tactic so far has been launching innovative new products and marketing them in a fresh modern way. This may sound simple, yet the majority of our competitors have very traditional products and market their products in a very corporate uncreative way. Also Google ad words play a key part in our marketing plan.
Who are your target markets?
The education and public sector as well as BTB and NHS.
Do you have any competitors?
We don’t have any competitors with “like for Like” products as we have patented all our products world wide. There are however many companies selling standard bike racks.
What is your business model?
To increase our product offering and to replicate our UK success in approximately 12 countries over the next 3-5 years
How do you achieve balance in your life?
By having a very active approach to weekends and ensuring we take at least one holiday a year.
Where you see yourself and your business in 5 years? 10 years?
In 5 years, we will be selling our products in over 12 countries and would have increased our turnover by at least 4 times our current turnover. We will also have increased our margins by purchasing in higher quantities from our manufacturers.
What has been the most difficult moment so far and how did you overcome it?
Ensuring the people we employ are the right people, this is due to the potential expense and amount of time wasted if we get it wrong. We overcome this by ensuring we correctly write out job descriptions, hold at least 2 interviews and then ensure the potential candidate is happy to work on a 3 month probation period.
What is been your memorable moment as an entrepreneur?
Winning young entrepreneur of the year 2006 and also seeing the new products we produce used by people every day.
What’s your exit strategy?
Floating the company on “Aim” could be an option for us….
Who has influenced you the most and been your greatest inspiration?
Jonathan Ive and James Dyson from a design point of view!
What advice would you give to young aspiring entrepreneurs?
Vision without action is only a dream!
Thanks for the spending with us at YHP, We wish you the best in the future, I’m sure cyclepods is going to kick ass anyways.
For more information on James Stewart or Cyclepods, visit:
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