Did you ever experience that sweet, sweet euphoric runner’s high when your middle school gym teacher forced your class to run the mile? I didn’t (actually, I had an asthma attack instead). But Phil Knight probably did. He has always loved running and believes there’s nothing better. So to help share his passion with the world, he created Blue Ribbon Sports...
It all started when Phil finished school. After saying goodbye to his college track career and textbooks, he decided he wanted to find himself and see the world. He made the pitch to his parents. To his surprise, they gave him the green light, and he was off and across the Atlantic before they could change their minds.
On his trip around the world, one thing in particular really caught his eye: a Japanese shoe called the Tiger. It was better than any shoe he ever used during his track career in the US. Cheaper. Lighter. Higher quality. He thought it would be a good idea for someone to sell the kicks in the states.
So when he got home, Phil decided to run down a dream (no shame with that pun). He called his collegiate track coach, asked him to be his business partner, bought a Japanese business etiquette handbook, flew back to Japan, struck a deal, and placed an order for a ton of Tigers (shoutout Joe Exotic). Just like that, Blue Ribbon Sports was born.
He spent the next couple years selling shoes out of the trunk of his car at track meets. People loved them. He kept at it. His business partner experimented with new designs and changes to the shoes, using the track team as guinea pigs. The product got better and better. Then, Blue Ribbon Sports started offering a wider selection of running shoes, and—eventually—all different types of athletic apparel. Phil focused bottling up that first-place-crossing-the-finish-line type of feeling and putting it into the brand.
It worked. Now, Blue Ribbon Sports sells more shoes in the US and World than any other company. If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of it, that’s because they changed the name of the company a few years into business. Now, it’s called Nike. Thinking about pursuing that business idea? Just do it. Let’s freaking go.
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