Founding year: 1964
Valuation: $30 billion
How did it all begin?
In 1957, Phil Knight entered Oregon’s university to be on the team of a legendary athletics coach Bill Bowerman. Being passionate with sports, they quickly got along with each other.
After graduating, Phil went to Stanford and got interested in Japanese market. He realized that the export of cheap sneakers in the US could be a great alternative to expensive shoes for sportsmen.
At that time, low-cost sports shoes were normally uncomfortable and bulky but cost only $5. Phil decided to change the game and become the sports equipment leader.
Bill Bowerman propelled the competitive spirit and teamwork — these principles later formed the basis of Nike’s brand culture. He was an innovator and sought to improve sport shoes and equipment. For his students, Bill created lighter sneakers for breaking records. He invented a special cover for treadmills to protect trackmen from traumas.
In 1962, Phil traveled to Japan where he contracted for the import of Tiger’s sneakers to the US. In a year, the first 300-unit load went on sale. As a warehouse, Phil used parents’ laundry.
In 1964, he offered cooperation to his ex-coach Bowerman. They both invested $500 in the business and started to sell sneakers to the athletes they knew. Overall, Phil and Bill earned $8,000 at that point.
In a year, it was time to scale the company up. Their first employee Jeff Johnson visited athletic competitions to sell sneakers. In the meantime, he provided valuable data for building Nike’s strategy by asking sportsmen what kind of shoes they would like to have.
In 1966, Johnson started to make shoes which was the first retail point for sales. These were light sneakers designed especially for running. And unlike other materials they didn’t crack in the sun.
Highs and Lows
In 1969, the company took off having 20 employees, several retail stores, and $300,000 turnover.
As the business grew, serious challenges appeared — a Japanese shoes-supplier offered to buy Phil’s share and deprived Nike of exclusive distributing rights in the US. As a result, the brand had to sell only their own sneakers.
In 1972, the company introduced their shoes at the Olympics and started to expert them abroad. Its net income reached nearly $2 million over a year. In 1980, Nike’s running sneakers became the best selling ones in the US.
Today Nike is the most expensive sport brand in the world. It has around 1150 stores and 80,000 employees across the globe. It also keeps sponsoring many sport teams and launching brand-new products.