Nike – Philip Knight Success Story – Famous Entrepreneurs


“by the rules. But be cruel.”

Starting The Business

As Fred Smith and FedEx origin, Philip Knight first ideas of what would Nike Inc. came to him while he was on

school. While working on a master’s at Stanford, Knight – an accomplished runner in his undergraduate days at the University

in Oregon – wrote a paper that outlined a plan to overcome the monopoly Adidas had on the running shoe market. He soon

to realize this was to employ cheap Japanese labor to make shoes both better and cheaper.

plan was put into action shortly after graduating in 1962. Knight went to Japan to meet with executives Onitsuka Tiger

Co., manufacturer of imitation Adidas runners, claiming to be the head of a company called Blue Ribbon Sports (which did not

, unless in his mind). Knight convinced Tiger to export their shoes to the United States though Blue Ribbon and had them send samples

so his colleagues could see them.

Knight paid for the samples with money from his father. He sent a few pairs Bill Bowerman, track coach Knight from his days on

University of Oregon, who became interested in the venture. Knight and Bowerman became partners and put $ 500 each into

purchase of 200 pairs of Tigers. Blue Ribbon Sports was founded, and Knight started going to high school track and field events

selling shoes from the trunk of his car.

sales of $ 3 million dollars when Knight chose to dissolve the partnership with Tiger in 1970. Blue Ribbon began

produce their own line and began selling Nike line (named after the Greek goddess of victory) in 1972. These first Nike shoes

were adorned with the now-internationally recognizable swoosh logo – which Knight had ordered for $ 35 – and had

grip-improving “waffle soles”, conceived of by Bowerman while watching his wife with a waffle iron.

Building An Empire

success Blue Ribbon is (renamed Nike in 1978) in 1970 and in the ’80s can largely be attributed to marketing Knights

policy. He thought it best not to push his Nike shoes though advertising, but to let professional athletes endorse their product.

Fortune smiled on Knight as his partner Bill Bowerman became the coach of the American Olympic team and many of the best performers

the team decided to shod their feet with Nikes. Of course, when runners went well, the shoes they wore Were

highlights. Steve Prefontaine, a brash and unconventional American record holder, became the first spokesman for Nike shoes.

by tennis player John McEnroe hurt his ankle, he began wearing a Nike three-quarter-top shoes and sale of specially

brand jumped from 10,000 pairs to over 1 million. As Knight had hoped, celebrity athlete endorsements was effective

company. Knight also capitalized on a jogging craze, and through clever marketing to convince consumers that they should only be

wearing the best the best in the world.

The Air Jordans helped the company continue to thrive in 1980. For the first time, the shoe made more than $ 100 million.

Knight realized first goal of replacing Adidas as the number one shoe manufacturer worldwide in 1986. The total sales

had surpassed $ 1 billion. However, by neglecting the growing interest in aerobics shoes, Nike would have to face some


through problems and disputes

Sales dropped by 18% between 1986 and 1987, Reebok’s trendy, stylish aerobics shoes came to be in high demand. Knight had to

recognize the technological achievements in the Nike shoe would not satisfy those who placed appearance above performance. The

Nike Air responded Knight to Bolton. It revived sales and put Nike back in the number one spot in 1990.

Corporate Monster that it had become, Nike was the purpose of public outrage in 1990 when stories of teenagers killed for their

Nikes began floating around. It was believed that Nike was promoting their shoes too forcefully.

The same year Jesse Jackson attacked Nike for not having any African-Americans on its board or among the Vice-Presidents, despite

the fact that the customer base was largely black. Nike boycott Jackson was black board appointed.

There has also been controversy over whether Knight’s use of Asian factory workers as cheap labor s exploitative.

With all the bad press that has been foisted on Nike through these events, the Nike shoes continue to sell well. And

1993, The Sporting News voted Knight “the most powerful man in sports” though he was neither a player nor controlled. Knight’s

Marketing facility is praised and considered as a major factor in his impressive performance.


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