In less than twenty years, Under Armour founder, chief executive officer and chairman Kevin Plank built one of the most successful sportswear companies in the world following the principles the former US football player has inscribed throughout his headquarters in Baltimore: “Think like an entrepreneur. Create like an innovator. Perform like a teammate.”
Plank grew up in Kensington, Maryland to a father who was a land developer and a mother who was the mayor of the town. He developed a passion for sports from an early age, playing football for the Maplewood Maple Leafs. He graduated from St. John 's College High School and later at the University of Maryland, where he obtained a BA and MA in Business Administration. During his time at the University, Plank launched various businesses.
Frustrated by his sweat-soaked cotton t-shirts, Plank designed t-shirts under the name Under Armour that wicked the sweat from his body. He initially began the business from his grandmother's basement in Washington D.C. Once his friends started playing professional football, he sent them the shirts, asking him to pass them out in the locker rooms.
By the end of 1996, Under Armour had sold 500 Under Armour HeatGear shirts, generating $17,000 for the company. In late 1999, Plank's Under Armour ran a $25,000 advertisement in ESPN Magazine, which resulted in $1 million in direct sales and teams started to purchase the clothing. In 2010, the company's revenues reached $1 billion. In November 2005, Under Armour went public, trading at NASDAQ, and became the first US-based initial public offering in five years to double on its first day of trading.
In February 2015, the company acquired two big fitness apps — Endomondo and MyFitnessPall — for for $475 million, hoping to build a global digital health platform to rival Google, Apple and Fitbit. The following year, Under Armour signed Tim Coppens as executive creative director of a new non-performance men’s and womenswear line that the company will launch in 2016.
Today, Plank employs over 11,000 people with Under Armour, which is based in Baltimore, and has an estimated net worth of $1.9 billion, according to Forbes in 2019. He also sits on multiple boards in the US, including the Board of Trustees at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, the Board of Directors at the Baltimore City Fire Foundation and the Board of Trustees at the National Football Foundation and the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
In November 2014, Plank made a pledge of $25 million to the University of Maryland to be used for the proposed athletics and academic complex.