Sports is a
universal language. It transcends cultures, borders and barriers. Sports is a
great business to be in, and an even better business to lead. Nike is a
world-renowned name in the sports equipment and attire industry. When most
people think of Nike, they think of the ‘Swoosh.’ It’s one of the most recognized
symbols in the world. Despite Nike’s impressive breakthroughs and successes,
how the company came about was an interesting story.
Nike was founded
in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports and initially operated as a distributor for the
Japanese shoemaker Onitsuka Tiger. It officially became Nike Inc. in 1971. The
name Nike was derived from ancient Greek mythology, which means ‘the Goddess of
victory.’ The founders were Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. Phil Knight was a
middle-distance runner who trained under track and field coach, Bill Bowerman.
The company started with only $1200 as capital.
Bill Bowerman was
constantly thinking of new solutions to improve their running shoes that would
be suitable for multiple surfaces. After years of effort, struggle and
experiments, a light went on in Bowerman’s head whilst he was making waffles
with his wife for breakfast. He had an epiphany and came to realize the idea to
make grooved pattern on the sole of trainers to help athletes grip running
tracks. In 1973, Nike produced and debuted the legendary lighter weight
training shoes that had an outsole with waffle-type nubs also known as “Nike
Waffle Trainer” which was an instant success and became a big game changer in
the running shoes industry. Just like that, Nike continues to launch their own
line of shoes and further strengthen their status as a successful competitor as
the growth of the company skyrockets.
From the late
1980s Nike steadily expanded its business and diversified its product line
through numerous subsidiaries including Cole Haan (luxury shoes, handbags,
accessories and coats); Converse (athletic and lifestyle footwear, apparel and
accessories); Hurley (action sports and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and
accessories); Nike Golf, and Umbro (a leading U.K. based football/soccer
brand); on top of the leading Nike and Jordan brands. Each brand is created and
designed to cater to different customer segments to maximize potential,
increase sales and promote company’s growth.
Starting up in the
humble city of Oregon, Nike has evolved to be the largest sports equipment and
attire company. Nike successfully garnered 50 percent of the market share within
the United States by 1980, the same year the company went public. To date, Nike
is selling their products in 170 countries, with the help of more than 30,000
worldwide employees to serve millions of consumers with thousands of products. Nike
has also become synonymous
with athlete endorsements and sponsorships.
It started with a
handshake, between a coach and a trainee. When they decided to embark on this
journey, they had no idea their company would be the world’s leading innovator
in athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories. Nike’s success has
been the result of the constant innovation and improvisation as well as timely
investments that have resulted in Nike making profits worth hundreds of million
dollars every year.