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How Under Armour Reached $5 Million in Revenue In 4 Years
Today, we’ll discuss the story of how Under Armour, one of the world's leading sportswear brands, got its start.
In 1996, 24-year-old Kevin Plank founded the company in his grandmother's basement and over time, it grew to become the fourth-largest sportswear brand in the world.
Let's dive into what led to the company’s early success.
1/ The Idea
While in college, Kevin played football for the University of Maryland and grew frustrated with how cotton T-shirts soak up sweat.
He realized that synthetic fabric, which was used for biker shorts, could be the solution.
He started making samples for his teammates to try, and then made the shirts in his grandmother's basement. He drove his car to college campuses and tried to sell them to football teams.
2/ Go After The Big Fish:
Early on, Kevin focused on selling to teams instead of individual athletes because he already had connections with former teammates and coaches, plus, it's more lucrative to sell to teams that need to outfit all their players.
This strategy amplified the effect of word of mouth. In 1996, the equipment manager at Georgia Tech bought 10 Under Armour shirts. A few months later Arizona State, NC State, and other football teams followed suit.
In 1997, 12 college teams and 10 NFL teams purchased Under Armour shirts.
A key element in Kevin’s success was his Yes Mindset, when one customer asked if he makes long-sleeved shirts, he answered: "Of course we make it in long sleeves." and then figured out how to do it. When another asked him if he makes anything for cold weather, he replied: “Of course.”
3/ Build The Sales Funnel:
By 1999, Under Armour had sold over 25,000 garments to MLB, NFL, and NHL teams and started selling at retailers. The company also made product placement deals with 2 movies to build awareness. However, they needed a way to link their logo to the brand in people's minds. At the time, one way to do this was magazine advertisements.
The only problem was that the company didn't have enough money in the bank as it had been invested in inventory. So, Kevin asked his team to skip their paychecks for a few weeks in order to afford a half-page ad in ESPN. This ad generated $750,000 in sales over the next two weeks and kicked off the company's revenue in 2000 which reached $ 5 Million.
Today, Under Armour does over $5 billion in sales, but if it weren't for Kevin's hustler mentality and grind early on, it definitely wouldn't have come this far.
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