One could easily make the case that Kevin Plank is a classic American success story. He invented a new product, set up an operation in his grandmother’s basement, made his first sale from the trunk of his car – and now he is a billionaire.
Plank’s story is one of defying the odds and a willingness to take enormous risks. It’s also the tale of a man who refused to fail and found ways to innovate his way out of vexing problems.
Kevin Plank founded Under Armour in 1996 with a single product that solved a common problem – clothing that got too sweaty during strenuous athletic activity. At the time, Plank was playing football for his college team, the University of Maryland Terrapins. He called himself the “sweatiest guy on the team.” The feeling of a soaked t-shirt beneath his football gear was unbearable.
He set out to discover or invent a fabric that would leech sweat away from the skin and keep an athlete cool. He finally found the material he was looking for – it was a fabric used in women’s undergarments. The bottom line was that it worked. Plank scraped together cash from wherever he could to manufacture his first batch of shirts.
At the time he was working out of his grandmother’s Georgetown home. He enlisted the support of his former college football teammates to wear the shirts and recommend them to other players at the NCAA Division I level. This led to his first big sale to Georgia Tech. Kevin Plank’s company Under Armour was off and running.
There would still be many hurdles to clear, but incredible persistence and struggling through periods of scarce capital enabled Under Armour to launch itself into a higher sphere. A key was a $25,000 ad in ESPN magazine which blew the lid off Plank’s efforts. The ad generated $1 million in sales. Kevin Plank and Under Armour never looked back.
Today Kevin Plank is renowned for his philanthropy. Has donated millions of dollars to the Cupid Foundation. He has also funded school programs and countless other charitable and nonprofit organizations that do good work for disadvantaged families and children. Find out more about Kevin Plank: https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/alumnus-kevin-plank-pledges-25-million-to-university-of-maryland