Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 263171
Loughborough University

Inspiring Enterprising Graduates

Graduate profiles

James Lock Video Interview
Year of Study

I developed Zone3 whilst studying and training at Loughborough and launched the company in 2009. We are a UK Triathlon brand specialising in high quality, performance products.

What prompted you to set up on your own?

As a triathlete competing at elite level, I train hard and am always striving to improve. As well as developing my performance, I need the best equipment. Over the years, I tried various brands and never found a suit that really met my needs.

So, I started to think about engineering my own triathlon wetsuit – one with a performance fit, lots of flexibility around the shoulders, good buoyancy and which would be quick to remove.

Running my own business is something that I’ve wanted to try since a young age. My father has his own company – so I guess it’s in the blood – and he was very encouraging when I broached my idea with him.

How did you get started?

Drawing on my experience and that of fellow athletes, I researched and developed my own brand of high performance race-wear which uses the latest technologies and materials to increase speed and improve comfort.

A recurrent theme in my research was the need to reduce the transition time between the triathlon’s swimming and cycling elements. Therefore, I was keen to come up with a solution – and Pro Speed™ arm and leg cuffs were born which uses a unique silicone coating on the outside of the suit.

I visited countless numbers of trade shows around the world to ensure that I was incorporating the latest technologies and using high quality and professional manufacturers.

I was originally based in the University’s Innovation Centre which was a really convenient base. Marina Pickles, the University’s Student and Graduate Enterprise Manager, helped me to negotiate a reduced rent – and also helped me to organise and fund the first ever Zone3 photoshoot.

Where is your company at now?

As well as wetsuits, we now offer a full range of tri suits, accessories and compression wear – all available through a network of 50 retail outlets as well as our online store. We supply to amateur and professional athletes as well as to teams and clubs.

Business is very good – turnover hit £1.5 million this year. We are now venturing into the world market and hope business will continue to grow. Eventually, we would like Zone3 to be a leading global brand known for innovative, high-performance products.

We are certainly developing a reputation for quality and value – supported by several 10/10 reviews and Top Value awards. We were delighted when our Aspire suit was named runner-up in the Wetsuit of the Year category at the 220 Triathlon Awards 2012.

We’re making a big overseas expansion at the moment, especially in the USA where we hope to rapidly grow - whilst remaining the number on brand in the UK.

Any words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs?

You don’t need a eureka-moment to launch a successful business, but you do need to research and choose your product and market carefully. One thing’s for sure, you certainly need to be prepared to put in a lot of hard work and effort if you want to succeed.