Innovation and Success: A Perfect Fit for Under Armour’s Kevin Plank

At the 2010 Cupid’s Cup Business and Innovation Showcase and Competition, Kevin Plank told the audience that entrepreneurship in America is an undersold resource. He contended that this resource of individual ideas is undercut because entrepreneurship gives rise to creativity and innovation. Further, Plank mentioned that he and his workers were “…always smart enough to be naive enough not to know what we couldn’t accomplish.” Their thinking was, “Why not us, why not me, why not you?” The Cupid’s Cup is an event that Kevin Plank founded with the Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, a program of the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. This event has grown into a nationwide exposé for college entrepreneurs with prize money of over $100,000 awarded to winners.

Kevin Plank continues to support this event. For, he firmly believes that at the core of successful businesses and national economic growth is the willingness to take risks and develop new products with a capable workforce. Along with his firm belief in entrepreneurship, Kevin Plank is committed to one principle. This principle is that product development, risk-taking and robust and effective management of the workforce are the foundations for the success of any private business. These elements are also essential to the economic growth of a nation. And, as strongly as he believes in creativity and risk-taking, Plank also believes in building and leading a thriving workforce.

The former football player likens his workforce to a team: “Our culture happens to be built much like a team. Sales and marketing is like our offense, manufacturing and distribution is like our defense, finance and IT are like our special teams.” Each part of this “team” contributes to the success of the product. The offense ensures growth and the generating of new ideas, the defense protects the quality of the product and the special team handles the operations and growth of the company with continuous innovations. One of the first members of the team is Kip Fulks. He points out that the Under Armour team always desired to make the brand expand and not be “some guys working out of grandma’s basement.”