Success Story-5

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Brand Nike – Founded by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight

Phil Knight

Phil Knight was a talented middle-distance runner from Portland, who enrolled at Oregon in the fall of 1955 and competed for Bowerman’s track program. Upon graduating from Oregon, Knight earned his MBA in finance from Stanford University, where he wrote a paper that proposed quality running shoes could be manufactured in Japan that would compete with more established German brands. But his letters to manufacturers in Japan and Asia went unanswered, so Knight took a chance.

He made a cold-call on the Onitsuka Co. in Kobe, Japan, and persuaded the manufacturer of Tiger shoes to make Knight a distributor of Tiger running shoes in the United States. When the first set of sample shoes arrived, Knight sent several pairs to Bowerman, hoping to make a sale. Instead, Bowerman stunned Knight by offering to become his partner, and to provide his footwear design ideas to Tiger. They shook hands to form Blue Ribbon Sports, pledged $500 each and placed their first order of 300 pairs of shoes in January 1964. Knight sold the shoes out of the trunk of his green Plymouth Valiant, while Bowerman began ripping apart Tiger shoes to see how he could make them lighter and better, and enlisted his University of Oregon runners to wear-test his creations. In essence, the foundation for what would become Nike had been established.

Bill Bowerman

Bill Bowerman was a nationally respected track and field coach at the University of Oregon, who was constantly seeking ways to give his athletes a competitive advantage. He experimented with different track surfaces, re-hydration drinks and – most importantly – innovations in running shoes. But the established footwear manufacturers of the 1950s ignored the ideas he tried to offer them, so Bowerman began cobbling shoes for his runners.

Story OF Nike

The Story of this well known sportswear giant “ Nike” is worth discussing as it all started with one man selling shoes from the back of a car and grew into the sportswear master class in the world.

The Company has got its name from the word  “Nike”,  meaning ,the Greek Goddess of Victory.

It all started in the year 1964 with the story of “Blue Robin Sports”. At this time Phil Knight had just gone through university of Oregon followed by a stint at Stanford for his MBA.

At university of Oregon Phil Knight ran for the school’s track and field team, putting him into contact with their coach, Bill Bowerman, a person who had a fascination with optimizing his runner’s shoes, constantly trying with different models after learning from a local cobbler.

Knight was the first student of Bowerman to try his self designed shoes. Once Bowerman offered Knight to take one of his shoes and fix them up with his custom design. Knight accepted the offer and the shoes worked so well that his teammate Otis David took them and ended up using them to win gold in the 400-meter race in 1960 Olympic. After this Otis Davis insisted Bowerman to make shoes for him.

While going through his MBA at Stanford’s university, Knight wrote a paper explaining the theory of production of running shoes. He insisted that the production of running shoes should move from its centre in Germany to Japan, where labor was cheaper.

Knight got a chance to put this theory to the test with a trip to Japan shortly after his 1962 graduation. Knight did a deal with a group of Japanese businessmen to export the country’s popular tiger shoes into the U.S.

Coach Bowerman, who believed that German shoes were the best in the market, but, they weren’t anything too special to be replicated or even improved on, he then supported Knight’s venture, entering into 50-50 business deal for ownership of the new company, Blue Ribbon Sports, established in Eugene, Oregon, On Jan.25, 1964.

After getting the taste of Imported shoes, Knight and Bowerman   initially started selling their shoes out of their car backside. In a very short span of time they understood that the demand for these cheaper but still high-quality alternative (to Adidas, Pumas) shoes existed .

In 1965, Bowerman proposed a new shoes design to the Tiger shoe company that always provided the right support for runners with a cushioned innersole, soft sponge rubber in the forefoot and top of the heel, hard sponge rubber in the middle of the heel, and a firm rubber outsole.

This design turned out to be both a major success and a source of conflict between Blue Ribbon and its Japanese supplier.

The Shoe came in 1967 and became an Instant Hit for its comfortable, Sturdy, and stylish design.

Around the time of its success, relations between the two companies Blue Ribbon and Tiger once again improved. Knight claimed that the Japanese company was seeking a way out of its exclusive deal with blue Ribbon and sought to sink the company. Tiger claims to have discovered Blue Ribbon Sports selling their own version of the Tiger Cortez under a new line of shoes they called it “Nike

Following the Split between the two companies, Blue Ribbon Sports Fully rebranded itself as “Nike

Phil Knight initially wanted to call the company “Dimension 6”, but later it was Named with an inspiration to Greek goddess of Victory, Nike, interestingly this inspiration was received in Dream.

Faith in one’s own ability and the courage to challenge the existing competition can bring all the difference.

After Coming into existence properly om May 30, 1971, Nike, Inc. continued the success of Blue Ribbon Sports, helped first by the success of the Tiger Cortez and then by Bowerman’s inovative “Waffle” sole design.While thinking over breakfast on a way to give running shoes more traction, the coach saw the grooves in the waffle his wife made him and wounded what it would look inverted. He was not sure to pass on this idea to anyone, he poured melted urethane into his waffle iron. Unfortunately, he forgot to add any anti-stick agent onto the iron and it glued shut. But, the Idea had taken root, and with the help of another waffle iron he designed his ideal sole and the iconic “Waffle Trainer” was born. This shoe was a major success for Nike, the first of many to come as the company maintained a strong and steady growth through its early days,

The story and journey of Nike is a masterpiece example of Trust in oneself and giving wings to ones ideas. This motivates us to be focused and do everything for bringing our ideas into reality .

Want to know more about the journey of Nike reach me at dipupop@yahoo.co.in

Stay tuned for more success stories…………

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