The History of Nike

Nike was founded in 1964 by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. From a mere handshake, each man ended up investing $500 to import Tiger shoes from Japan and sell them in the United States. At that time, German shoe brands were the dominating brands that were preferred by athletes all over the world. The duo hence founded Blue Ribbon Sports, which would later become the successful sporting goods company we know as Nike.

The success story of Nike is worth a listen for anyone who’s interesting in sporting goods or how businesses run. We’ve hence chalked out an outline which would help one get the gist of this successful company and how it all started:

The Beginning

Bill Bowerman was a nationally-renowned track and field coach at the University of Oregon. He was a track enthusiast and worked to improve the performance of his athletes. Phil Knight was a runner and was enrolled in Bowerman’s track program. He then went on to get an MBA from Stanford. Both Bowerman and Knight felt that shoe technology could be improved. Knight even wrote a paper on how quality shoes could be manufactured in Japan that would compete with the most popular brands of that time.

Bill Bowerman was actively pouring his efforts into developing safe, comfortable, and inexpensive shoes in order to improve the performance of his students. While his initial combinations weren’t successful, Phil Knight’s paper helped make the dream a reality. Knight suggested his ideas to several investors but was forced to start work on his own after all. When he approached his old coach, Bowerman convinced him that a partnership was best for both individuals.

A Maturing company

As the company started to mature, it had its own storefront and a large number of mail-order sales. The founder then began to realize that their future could be in manufacturing, not just direct sales and distribution. Thus began their foray into Nike, the shoe design and manufacturing company. At that time, they also inaugurated the famous swoosh logo. One might say that there are at least two keys to their ultimate success.

The first key was that during this time, Bowerman and Knight kept tinkering with shoe technology. They never stopped pondering upon how a shoe could be improved. When the shoes were performing its best, it would automatically improve the performance of the athlete. They were thus able to come up with several new designs, which were used at local trial heats in Oregon.

The second key is related to how we think of Nike today, with the likes of Federer and Jordan in their list of endorsing celebrities. The company knew they needed an athlete to endorse and promote their new shoes and technology. In the beginning, they managed to find this in Steve Prefontaine, who had great success with their shoes. While wearing their merchandise, the athlete performed marvelously well at the Munich Olympics and was also featured in Sports Illustrated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *