“The Shoe Dog”
Nike is one of the most recognizable brands in the word – it transcends language and culture.
Phil Knight decided to team up with his college coach, Bill Bowerman, and create a sports company together. Bill had the sports know–how and Phil had a master’s in business administration from Stanford. Together they would create the largest sports brand in the world.
The year after he graduated, Knight took a business trip around the world. In Kobe, Japan, he stumbled upon Tiger brand running shoes, manufactured by Onitsuka Co. Impressed by the quality and low cost, Knight contracted the distribution rights for western United States. He reached out to coach Bill in the hopes of gaining an endorsement. Instead, Bowerman offered to become a partner and suggest product designs.
In 1964, Blue Ribbon Sports was born. They made their sales at track meets out of the back of Knight’s automobile. Their first employee a man named Jeff Johnson who suggested they rename the brand from BRS to Nike, after the Greeks winged goddess of victory. This did this in 1971. From there, they quickly grew. From the backs of cars to retailer stores, from the West Coast to the East Coast to the rest of the world, Nike spread like wildfire.
From his willingness to start small and partner strategically, Knight was able to create a massively successful business.