How It All Started
Kevin Plank founded Under Armour in 1995 after dreaming of a non-sweaty T-shirt while working with a football team. During a two-day practice session, he needed to bring undershirts because his cotton t-shirt would get sweat, make it hot and heavy. That is where his " ah-ha!" moment began.
After his graduation, he began exploring lightweight synthetic material, could breathe, and wouldn't sweat. He worked with his grandmother's homemaking and field testing his product with former teammates until he found the right material. He then started stitching t-shirts and giving them away to not only college athletes but professionals too.
Financing his Dream
Finding a loan for business can be hard. Talking about facts, nine out of ten entrepreneurs are turned down, by the bank for several reasons. There are so many alternatives to start or expand your business.
Plank invested $ 43,000 from his savings and $ 40,000 from his credit card limits to get the company from its ground. During its first year, the company was making up $ 17,000 in sales. He said, " I was so brooked, that I wanted to go to my mom's home and ask her to cook dinner for me. I needed her to feed me." It wasn't until a year that sales started making a profit for the company.
Journey of Under Armour
By the early 2000s, Under Armour was soaring. The company was expanding the business and advertising on television. Sales exceed $200 million by 2004, and Plank decided to take the company public in 2005. The company raised $157 million in the IPO.
In 2010, endorsements and media attention helped the brand to solidify in the market. The company signed a personal endorsement deal with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
In 2011, Under Armour partnered with Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who became the company's most prized endorsers. Under Armour also began to include women in their advertisements. Representing a stark change from the company's gruff and tough football beginnings.
In 2014, the company signed Gisele Bundchen, Tom Brady's wife, and feature ballerina Misty Copeland in an advertisement that went viral. Today, Under Armour has a vast selection of women's collections including, sports bras, leggings, and tank tops.
Under Armour experienced a minor setback when, they were blamed for the US speed skating team by some for slowing down Olympic Skaters. That same year, Under Armour, surpassed Adidas but still trailed behind Nike by a wide margin.
In 2015, they signed a deal with boxing champion Muhammed Ali. In 2016, Under Armour- UA SpeedForm Gemini 2, its first smart shoes with a built-in sensor to store and track data. The same year, the company announced to become the official supplier of uniforms for Major League Baseball- its first major deal.
In 2017, the company's stock fell by more than 40%, and it reported its first quarterly loss ever. At least five executives left the company that year, including footwear chief Peter Ruppe. Earlier Plank, upset many customers when he praised Donald Trump in an interview with CNBC.
In 2018, Under Armour again got a big blow when some athletes at UCLA refused to wear their shoes after complaining that the bottoms were peeling off. In 2019, the company backed off with the agreement with MLB to supply uniforms, saving the company a reported $50 million. The same year, the company missed the second quarterly sales, and shares fell 15% & continue to fell due to athletic wear games.