Contributor: The Next Zuck
The Next Zuck is a startup show covering college startups. The show travels to campuses across the country to feature student run startups, investors, accelerators and more.
Lucas Williamson said his college wrestling career “went down the drain” after a serious injury, but after creating his own startup he’s still found a way to pursue his passion and love for wrestling.
Team Sport, Customized Apparel
Lucas Williamson is the Founder of No Mercy Customs, a company that creates custom headgear and apparel for wrestlers.
“I found a need during my senior year in high school and [started] painting headgear with a paintbrush for my teammates and me. The next thing you know, posting on Facebook and Flickr took them nationally very quickly,” said Williamson who started at Columbus College of Art and Design, but is now at Ohio State University.
For almost three years, Williamson hand-painted the headgear designs. However, in September of 2013 he adopted a new process.
“We released a new manufactured headgear that I was working on developing…and basically embedded the custom design,” said Williamson. “Therefore I don’t have to spend tedious hours of painting them.”
According to their website, No Mercy Customs clientele spans across 38 states and their products are made in the U.S. Now, customers also have the opportunity to partake in the unique design process.
“They get to see the revision and they get to see the final proof on their computer and actually get to hold it,” said Williamson. “With the airbrush models they’re much more costly, but you’re also paying for this custom piece of artwork that no one else has in the country. It’s made for you – it’s made with love, care and time.”
“Niche is Rich”
Williamson said the wrestling industry – customized gear and the equipment – is potentially a decade behind apparel that would be offered to other sports such as Division 1 football teams. However, Williamson is not just trying to improve wrestling apparel, but he’s also trying to make the sport more appealing for young athletes.
“We were on the chopping block for the Olympics in 2020 and we got back on, but a lot of that was because there wasn’t enough desire in the sport outside of wrestling and we really want to drive that desire so that kids want to come and wrestle and want to compete,” said Williamson.
Additionally, with the hashtag “changing the sport,” Williamson has created a niche product through his his knowledge and love for wrestling as well as with his savvy business skills.
“We found wrestling, that was our target,” said Williamson. “And it’s not a big, big market, but there’s a demand for the market in the products that we’re selling and there’s a passion on the other side and the consumer side for what we’re providing.”
Growing No Mercy Customs
In the beginning, Williamson said this startup name was “laughed at,” but now No Mercy Customs has a renowned reputation throughout the sport.
“Now it’s a brand name within the wrestling market. Clearly it’s growing and when people say ‘NMC,’ they know what it is,” said Williamson, who is excited to see is business grow in just three short years.
Williamson said being a young entrepreneur has already taught him about himself and starting his own business.
“It’s taught me a lot, it’s shown me a lot and it’s taught me how to grow and mature more than anything,” said Williamson. “You know every experience is not failure, it’s a challenge and it’s an obstacle that you either have to get through, get around or go through.”