AIB Featured Business Leader Kevin Plank
Like so many entrepreneurs, the career of Kevin Plank came about when he could see a problem, and he began working towards a means of solving it. Born in the US in 1972, Plank attended the University of Maryland where he achieved both his Bachelor of Business Administration and Master of Business Administration. It was during his time at university that he recognised his desire to be an entrepreneur. Though very different to his current business venture, Plank saw a gap in the market for Valentine’s Day roses during his college days. This business saw him put away $17,000 in profit – money he later used to help start his next venture.
Again, Plank’s next business idea came about from personal experience with a problem he was facing. As a successful college football player, Plank was fed up with having to change his t-shirt multiple times during a match due to a build up of perspiration weighing him down. He thought that there must be a way to avoid this, so went on a mission to find a synthetic material which would remain light in playing conditions. After getting teammates to test the prototypes, the overwhelming feedback was that the new shirts made a significant difference. From there, Under Armour Inc. was established, and has grown into the billion dollar organisation in which Plank is the current Chairman and CEO of.
Kevin Plank’s success story can teach us many lessons when it comes to starting your own small business. Equipped with his BBA and MBA knowledge, he has built Under Armour into a multi-billion dollar empire. According to Fortune, the company’s stock prices rose 80% in 2013, and then a further 58% in 2014. In 2014 it also experienced 18 straight quarters of over 20% growth. In 2012, Plank was recognised by Forbes for changing the athlete’s experience on the playing field, and was also named #3 on Forbes’ list of America’s 20 Most Powerful CEOs 40 and Under. When asked to comment on his profound business success, Plank shared that “It begins with one entrepreneur and one idea and… their ability to communicate and their ability to build a great team”. He also added, “You need to put your hands around the throat of your business, and you need to run it. There’s no other way”.
Aside from being a successful businessman, Plank is also an active Philanthropist. He is known to have a passion for entrepreneurism, so much so that he invests heavily into the University of Maryland’s Business School and Center for Entrepreneurship. His passion has seen him empower young businessmen and women around the world to follow their dreams and turn their ideas into a real business. In addition, his interest in philanthropy has also translated into Under Armour, who is a supporter of a number of foundations such as The Rock Foundation, Ronald McDonald House and the V Foundation.
Overall, it is clear that Kevin Plank is a great example of how an idea or an issue can turn into a multi-billion dollar business venture. With the knowledge gained from his BBA and MBA, he has grown Under Armour exponentially, and given back as a philanthropist along the journey. I’m interested to hear your thoughts though – what do you think about his career, approach and business? Comment below to share your views.
This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to compile this article: