Kevin Plank
Plank giving a keynote address

Here’s a look back on a 2003 article featuring a then on the rise CEO of UA. Plank went from special teams role player on the Maryland football team, to the founder and leader of a major international brand. He started UA in the basement of his grandmother’s house in Washington DC. It is currently valued over a Billion dollars:

I probably had about 20 grand in the bank when Under Armour started. A lot of money for a college kid. I ended up going to just under $40,000 in credit card debt spread across five cards. In the summer of 1997, I was totally broke.

One of my clearest memories of college is my strength coach at Maryland saying, “Plank, stop worrying about all this other [business] crap and just commit yourself to playing football. You have the rest of your life to do these other things.” But I could never stop. I remember thinking how much fun it would be just to sit at a desk and think, “All right, how are we going to make a buck?”

Plank during his Maryland Football days

In September of 1996, the phone rings. It was the equipment manager for the Atlanta Falcons. He says, “Hey, I was in the Georgia Tech equipment room”–where I’d made my first sale–“and I love the product. Do you make the shirts in long sleeve?” My response was: “Of course we make it in long sleeve.” Then I get in my car, drive to the contractor, and try to figure out how to make the shirts in long sleeve.

We’re not going to be happy being a $100 million company or a nice $250 million family-run business. One of our first customers asked me recently how big we want to be. I said I want to be really big. Later it bothered me that I answered that way. Now I say I just want to be a great company.

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