If you spend whenever at under armour shoes melbourne, you’ll hear that question time and again. Founder and CEO Kevin Plank really likes whiteboards, and his awesome favorite use on their behalf is usually to write out leadership maxims for his team. Inside and outside his office, whole walls of floor-to-ceiling whiteboards contain lots of curt principles he’s scrawled over time: Expedite the inevitable. Perfection is definitely the enemy of innovation. Respect everyone, fear no one.
These commandments are meant not as simple inspiration or hard rules, he says, but together form a process of “guardrails” which allow everyone under him to use as entrepreneurs by channeling his thinking. The Plank principles are drilled into new employees in a weeklong orientation, and they’re painted all over the hallways at company headquarters, a former Procter & factory about the Baltimore waterfront. Think like an entrepreneur. Create like an innovator. Perform just like a teammate.
Plank provides the affect and intensity of a head coach–direct eye contact, military analogies, the environment of an individual you may not desire to disappoint. “Winning is part of our culture–it’s who our company is,” he says within his lofty office overlooking the harbor. (The only real artwork behind his desk: a giant UA logo, its letters stacked to evoke arms raised in victory.) “And culture is created on habits.” Perhaps the most crucial guardrail, as well as the company’s official mission, is seeking to “make all athletes better.” They have long equaled thinking about clothes as high-performance gear, but recently it’s taken on a major new meaning.
In the last two years, Under Armour has spent near $1 billion buying and investing in three leading makers of activity- and diet-tracking mobile apps. By doing this, the company has amassed the world’s largest digital health-and-fitness community, with 150 million users. Plank envisions all those users, and their metrics, being a big data engine to get anything from product development to merchandising to marketing. Many observers, though, balked with the $710 million price of the acquisitions, questioning whether Under Armour could quickly produce any return–a couple of the three companies were unprofitable–not to mention flourish in a place that shares little with making shirts and shoes. Longtime staffers worried the moves would crimp company performance, affect bonuses, or divert focus through the core business. Plank spent more hours than he cares to count, together with a large chunk of his winter vacation just last year, in one-on-one conversations to persuade them otherwise. “It absolutely was important,” he says, “this not just be my decision.”
Under Armour team-sports designers, discussing concepts for uniforms and satisfaction gear they’re making for Plank’s alma mater, the University of Maryland.
Plank loves to claim that the key to Under Armour’s success is the fact he never dedicated to every one of the reasons it couldn’t happen. A former Division 1 college football player, Plank famously bootstrapped Under Armour’s launch in 1995 furnished with one simple insight: The cotton undershirts football players wore under their pads slowed them down after they became soaked with sweat. After prototyping a moisture-wicking, formfitting alternative–made of fabric for women’s undergarments–and testing it on ex-teammates, Plank setup shop within his grandmother’s basement and, right before he went broke, scored his first big sale, to Georgia Tech. The corporation went on to make a totally new industry for performance apparel, IPO’d in 2005, now sponsors some of the world’s greatest athletes, including Jordan Spieth, Stephen Curry, and Lindsey Vonn.
Today, Under Armour has 13,500 employees around the globe and nearly $4 billion in revenue. But Plank continues to be every bit the entrepreneur, chasing audacious dreams–chief one of them overtaking Nike as being the world’s largest sportswear maker. Under Armour leapfrogged the longtime second, Adidas, inside the U.S. sportswear market in 2014, but worldwide it’s still third. And Nike remains far larger, with more than $30 billion in revenue in 2015 Which happens to be a part of why Plank desires to move so aggressively. Nike has in regards to a fifth several users on its Nike platform as Under Armour does on its apps, and also in 2014 the shoe giant shut down its FuelBand fitness-tracker business.
The actual effort is only beginning, though, as Plank has adopted the level of world-changing ambitions more widespread to your Google or Facebook. He envisions that Under Armour Connected Fitness will “fundamentally affect global health.” This month–doubters be damned–the corporation will start selling some biometric fitness devices along with a smart scale made together with the Taiwanese smartphone company HTC. The move will put Plank in direct competition with Fitbit and Apple within the fast-growing wearables market. It’s a bold, characteristically Plankian bet–plus a “very risky” one, says Morningstar retail analyst Paul Swinand. (Morningstar and Inc. are generally properties of Joe Mansueto.)
“Under Armour is a phenomenal success story,” Swinand says. Its stock has risen steadily–almost 2,000 percent within the decade since its IPO. “However when you’re hitting a home run every quarter on the core apparel business, why mess around by using a moon shot?”
Plank rarely admits to much uncertainty or doubt, so it’s telling which he echoes Swinand in describing Connected Fitness’s ambitions being a “moon shot.” But another of his whiteboard sayings comes to mind, that one thanks to his friend and former United states Special Operations commander Admiral Eric Olson: Nobody ever won a horserace by yelling “Whoa!”
Robin Thurston, co-founder after which CEO of Austin-based app maker MapMyFitness, got his first taste of Plank’s high-speed force-of-will approach once the Under Armour founder cold-called him in July 2013. Plank explained he loved Thurston’s app MapMyRun. “I run five miles three times a week, I log everything, I look up routes as i travel,” Plank began. “Just what are you doing together with the company?”
Thurston replied that he or she was approximately to improve more venture capital to pursue ambitious expansion plans: The company had bought several hundred domains based upon every physical activity, and planned to launch new services for every single. Thurston with his fantastic investors saw MapMyFitness as poised to be the top digital health-and-fitness network.
A couple of weeks later, Plank and three key lieutenants showed up early in the The Big Apple offices of Allen & Company, where Thurston with his fantastic team were huddling with their bankers. The MapMyFitness team got about 20 mins in a detailed PowerPoint presentation when Plank interrupted. “This can be awesome,” he explained, “but I would like to hold you back and go talk with Robin myself for several minutes”–without the bankers running interference. Forty minutes later, Plank and Thurston returned, and Plank asked the MapMyFitness team if they’d like to go to Baltimore, right away, to look into the Under Armour campus.
It wasn’t 11 a.m. as soon as the group–as well as under armour shoes online, who’d been waiting in the airport to hitch a ride on Plank’s jet–pulled up at Under Armour headquarters. Former Washington Redskin LaVar Arrington opened Thurston’s door, and offered a tour of your campus, along with some oatmeal cookies, for the stunned app makers. Within 2 weeks, the parties had agreed that Under Armour would discover the startup for $150 million, and Thurston would remain atop MapMyFitness and turn into Under Armour’s chief digital officer.
Thurston, a onetime professional cyclist who maintained MapMyFitness’s position being a top fitness app through the iPhone’s earliest days, tells the history in their new office in downtown Austin, in a brand-new building where giant images of Under Armour athletes adorn the walls (amid, needless to say, motivational mantras) and many hundred new engineers along with other tech employees work. In the beginning, Thurston says, Under Armour’s interest had been a puzzler. He’d entertained partnering with insurance firms and media companies, but he always worried they’d exploit all the data MapMyFitness gathers about people’s personal habits in ways that might violate the trust he’d designed with the city. Under Armour had simply never occurred to him like a home for his company.
But one thing Plank did in this private meeting in The Big Apple was pullup a concept video Under Armour had created earlier that year called “Future Girl.” It showed a young woman starting a morning workout in clothes that had been touch-sensitive and can contact data displays and also change color using the tap of a finger. “I made this for you,” Plank said to Thurston. (In fact, it had run being a TV commercial; Plank explained to me it was made for someone like Robin 02dexipky though “I didn’t know who Robin can be.”) He wanted to ensure that Thurston wouldn’t bolt right after the sale, but would instead see a fantastic opportunity and lead it. Under Armour had always been a tech company, within its way, Plank explained–but it had struggled with digital.
At Under Armour headquarters, workers’ breaks often involve workouts, such as this one by using an artificial-turf field overlooking Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
None of the products from the “Future Girl” video existed then–as well as a variation of just one is striking the market now–but merging performance products with performance data and interactive technology was a top Under Armour priority, given Plank’s instinct that that’s the location where the world was going. Plank had directed a team several years earlier to create an “electric” product, and they’d think of the E39 compression shirt, which in fact had sensors baked into the fabric to track an athlete’s heartrate. The shirt launched in the 2011 NFL training combine to much fanfare, but a simplified consumer version–a sensor-equipped chest band–had only niche appeal. That experience made Plank realize Under Armour couldn’t contend with hardware businesses that employ a large number of engineers and constantly turn out incremental innovations.
“It’s absurd you know more details on your car than you understand the body,” says Plank. He’s betting athletes’ personal data will turbocharge their fitness and Under Armour’s future.
“It’s very normal to get a product company–which can be really what Under Armour is–to get gone on the path of attempting to produce hardware,” says Thurston. “They are aware the distribution channels, they realize how to sell products, they know how to market them. But since they started doing their homework about what was happening in the space, they found that the strength [of digital fitness] was really locally.”
Plank also knew it could take years to construct a community like Thurston’s. “It wasn’t that I didn’t be aware of right techniques to be seeking from engineers. I didn’t realize the proper things to ask,” Plank admits. “I’m a sporting goods guy.”
Following the MapMyFitness acquisition closed at the end of 2013, Plank and Thurston proceeded uncharacteristically slowly, spending time to put priorities for less than Armour’s digital transformation. Thurston identified four key pillars of health–sleep, fitness, activity, and nutrition–that he according to Plank’s “make all athletes better” mission. Once that vision snapped into focus, Plank saw an opportunity not only to be described as a collector of human activity data but additionally to become the central processor that turns that data–no matter what whose device or app collected it–into useful insights. “OK. Let’s undertake it,” he told Thurston one day at the end of 2014. With the following March, that they had spent over fifty percent a billion dollars acquiring two more companies: San Francisco-based MyFitnessPal, a nutrition-tracking system for people to log the meals they eat, and Copenhagen-based Endomondo, an individual-training curriculum whose users are almost entirely beyond the Usa Under Armour suddenly had not merely the world’s largest digital fitness community but numerous engineers and reams of user data too.
Just one single big question loomed: How could any of that will help Under Armour chip away at Nike’s dominance, or at least sell a lot more workout shirts?
All over the railroad tracks in the Under Armour campus, a low redbrick building houses the company’s innovation lab, where president of product and innovation Kevin Haley leads a team of biomechanists, designers, engineers, along with a psychologist to formulate shoe and apparel concepts. There are actually weather chambers to re-create different exercise scenarios, devices that stretch and compress materials, gait-analysis systems, washers and dryers, 3-D printers, laser cutters, and countless other machines. The deeper you go into the long, narrow lab space, the greater secretive the operations. The prototyping room is locked down coming from all but a few select employees and executives, who must pass a biometric scanner to enter.
Prior to taking across the innovation lab, Haley came up with the Under Armour consumer insights department. In the beginning, “the trick of our success was which we were the consumer,” Haley says. “Kevin was actually a football player. He just knew. But slowly, we got more than our consumer.” The company stopped bragging about not using focus groups and started tapping its sponsored athletes for product insights, sending researchers to appear in people’s closets, and running online surveys.
What Under Armour didn’t know with much precision, though, was how people used its products after buying them. “You simply know when someone swipes a charge card or otherwise not,” as Haley puts it–and in many cases that only happens a couple of times each year for almost any customer. “We call something a basketball shirt, but may be the guy wearing it to football practice? Is definitely the boyfriend shirt he gives to his girlfriend something she wears as pajamas?”
But furnished with data from Connected Fitness apps, Haley says, they can take design cues from 150 million those who, having downloaded a fitness app, are exactly the potential audience: “There’s unbelievable data inside. You already know their running pace, just how far they go, how frequently they go. You literally determine what make of Greek yogurt they normally use.”
It’s too soon to view many new products because of each of the new data–developing a bit of gear often takes eighteen months–but Haley points to 1. The corporation learned from MapMyFitness data that this average run is 3.1 miles–“not a couple of miles, not five miles, but 3.1,” Haley says. And once it arrived at making the Speedform Gemini running shoe, that has been released last January to largely rave reviews, the organization added “charged foam” padding tailored for that sort of run.
“The toughest question for all of us is not, Are there any cool technologies on the market?” says Haley. “It’s, What do you want me to operate on? This provides us unbelievable insight that’s both incredibly broad and deep, with the exact same population group we’re marketing toward.” That may be especially helpful in the two huge growth opportunities for Under Armour. Greater than 60 percent of Connected Fitness’s users are women, who make up just 30 percent of Under Armour’s apparel sales. And while no more than 11 percent of the sales are international, 35 percent of your Connected community is away from Usa
Still, the high-stakes bet on Connected Fitness will likely be slow to pay off. Under Armour recently increased its projections for the following a couple of years, estimating which it would nearly double net revenue by 2018, to $7.5 billion (up from a previous estimate of $6.8 billion). Only $200 million–a paltry 2.7 percent–will come from Connected Fitness. But Thurston likens his digital community to “having a Super Bowl-size audience every day,” and one of the most immediately practical moves will probably be using those apps being a marketing channel. A characteristic called Gear Tracker, for instance, allows under armour online melbourne users to log the sneakers they use when they go running, and get a reminder when their mileage suggests it’s time for you to buy brand new ones. A partnership with Zappos makes ordering replacements easy.