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Thursday, June 24, 2021

Kevin Plank of Under Armour: Exemplary Vision of Entrepreneurship

Kevin Plank, the Chief Executive Officer of Under Armour, a fitness attire manufacturer, was very nearly bankrupt when he began marketing flagship garments under the brand name Under Armour. To finance his commercial venture, he utilized all his savings, approximately $20,000, and procured $40,000 more via credit card loan.

Shortly, Plank was able to perform a breakthrough deal with Georgia Tech University to the tune of $17,000 and in a surge of impetus, 24 NFL teams instantly turned into his customers. After that, Kevin did not have to look back. Within only 1 or 2 years, he could generate revenue of millions and employ hundreds of workers.  

At present, Under Armour has a strong workforce of 16,400 and produces income of almost 5 billion dollars via retail sales.

About Under Armour

Under Armour, Incorporated is a US-based sports equipment manufacturer that makes casual wear, sports attire, and footwear. The global head office of the company is situated in Baltimore, MD. Besides, offices are present in the following locations:

  • Austin, TX 
  • Amsterdam (European head office) 
  • Hong Kong 
  • Guangzhou (China)
  • Jakarta (Indonesia)
  • Houston, TX 
  • Mexico City (Mexico)
  • London (United Kingdom)
  • New York City, NY 
  • Munich, Germany 
  • Paris, France 
  • Panama City (international headquarters), Panama 
  • Portland, OR 
  • Pittsburgh, PA 
  • São Paulo, Brazil  
  • San Francisco, CA 
  • Seoul, South Korea 
  • Santiago, Brazil 
  • Shanghai (Greater China head office) 
  • Toronto, Canada

Kevin Plank set up his startup Under Armour on 25th September 1996. He was just 24 then. At that time, Plank was an erstwhile skipper of the University of Maryland Special Football Team. At first, Kevin carried out his business operations from the cellar of his grandmother in Washington, District of Columbia. He passed time touring beside the East Coast of the United States with attire loaded in the dickey of his vehicle. Under Armour’s initial team selling event took place with an amount of $17,000 by the close of 1996. Then, there was no looking back for Kevin Plank. He shifted to Baltimore, MD from the cellar of his grandmother. Following one or two minor shifts in the city of Baltimore, Kevin shifted to his present head office at Tide Point.  

The Success Story of Under Armour, the Brainchild of Kevin Plank

Under Armour has turned into a well-known brand around the world because of its strategic collaborations, innovative product launches, and path-breaking marketing campaigns. While carrying out his business, Kevin Plank took several gambles that ultimately paid off and contributed to Under Armour’s remarkable growth.

1996 – Introduction of “The Shorty”

This year, Kevin launched the sweat-free T-shirt known as “The Shorty”. While Kevin played in the fullback position for the University of Maryland, he got exhausted to change out the sweat-dripped T-shirts that he put on under his sport shirt. Nevertheless, Plank observed that the compression shorts that he put on at the time of training remained free from moisture.

This incident worked as a motivator for him to manufacture a T-shirt with the help of moisture-drying synthetic fiber. Once he completed his bachelor’s from the University of Maryland, he designed the first model of the T-shirt. He named it prototype #0037 and it was instantly accepted by the co-players of the University of Maryland football team who participated in the NFL (National Football League).

Shortly, Kevin improved the pattern by manufacturing a fresh T-shirt made of microfibers that dried up humidity and kept sportspersons calm, bright, and dry. Key contestants like Adidas, Nike, and Reebok shortly followed suit with their range of moisture-drying sports attire. Kevin decided to utilize “armour” which is a British spelling for naming his brand since the free phone number was still accessible for that edition.

1997 – Launching of HeatGear and ColdGear

Kevin Plank launched HeatGear, ColdGear, and AllSeasonGear for the athletes to cope with diverse weather conditions. HeatGear kept athletes cool in warm conditions and ColdGear kept them hot, moisture-free, and casual in chilled conditions. AllSeasonGear kept sportspersons cozy between too hot and too cold climates.

1999- The Big Opportunity      

Under Armour won the bid to supply their clothing for the famous movie Any Given Sunday directed by Oliver Stone that starred Jamie Foxx and Al Pacino. In major shots of the movie, the soccer team put on Under Armour accessories and this attracted millions of sports enthusiasts across the globe.

2000- The ESPN Chapter 

Keen to seize the momentum from the movie Any Given Sunday, the Under Armour squad offered to relinquish their salary checks so that the company could book its initial half-page published advertisement in the ESPN mag. The strategy was fruitful, raising consciousness about the brand name and a $750,000 hike in revenue also took place. 

2001- Deals with Major Leagues

The company turned into the formal apparel provider of the NHL and signed authorization contracts with USA Baseball and Major League Baseball together with major retail collaborators.

2002- Launch of performance underclothing

In 2002, the sports apparel manufacturing concern introduced its initial range of performance undergarments.

2003- First National TV Advertisement 

The company came up with its initial countrywide TV commercial, the currently –fabled Protect this House ad with Eric “Big E” Ogbogu, an erstwhile University of Maryland soccer extraordinaire. Rosewood Capital, a customer sector-oriented private equity company invested $12 million into Under Armour in the same year.

2004- University of Maryland origin

After eight years from its foundation, the company got the opportunity to be the official garment maker of the track-and-field events team of the University of Maryland where the concept of Under Armour was originated. 

2005- Under Armour went public

On 18th November 2005, Under Armour launched its IPO and its stocks began trading with the symbol UARM under NASDAQ. It was the oldest American IPO in five years that became twofold on the initial trading day. The IPO helped the company procure capitalization worth $153 million. 

2006-Click Clack

The company ventured into the footwear industry by launching the first range of football boots. In the opening year, it could seize 23% market share and turn into the official shoe provider for the National Football League.

2007- Launch of Brand House  

The company’s earliest retail outlet, Brand House, was launched in Annapolis, MD.

2010 – Under Armour is now a billion-dollar brand

Within a term of five years, the company could boost its revenue by almost four times. It crossed yearly revenue of $1 billion only 15 years following the setting up of the company in Plank’s grandma’s cellar. Kevin celebrated the event by putting his signature on the box that achieved the landmark.

2015- Digital makeover took place

During its business, Under Armour made some acquisitions namely MyFitnessPal ($475 million), Endomondo ($85,000,000), and MapMyRun. All of them are fitness application firms and in this way, Under Armour developed the biggest digital health and fitness community in the world. The name that modified how sportspersons clothe currently modifies how they survive as well.

2016 – Big deal with UCLA

On 26th May 2016, UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) and Under Armour declared their strategies for a $280 million deal over a 15-year term which was the biggest attire and footwear funding in the chronicles of NCAA (The National Collegiate Athletic Association).   

So, the secret of Kevin Plank’s phenomenal success was disliking the apparel he used as an athlete. 



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Daniyel Carlson
Daniyel Carlson is a Young Researcher in the field of Data Science & Analytics having research experience of more than 8 years. He has a Masters in Computer Engineering and currently serves as an Editorial Assistant in IGI Global, United States of America. Daniyel also holds honorary positions in the Associate Member of Institute of Research Engineers and Doctors, International Association of Computer Science and Information Technology, International Association of Engineers, Society of Digital Information and Wireless Communications.

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