Kevin Plank is founder and CEO of Under Armour and a 1996 graduate of the University of Maryland. As a Maryland football player, he was not permitted to hold a job. But no one said he couldn't start a company. His first idea was a rose delivery business called Cupid's Valentine targeted to his classmates. In the first four years the business generated $17,000 and became seed money for his BIG idea: a T-shirt that wicked sweat and kept athletes cool, dry and light.
As special teams captain for the University of Maryland football team in the summer of 1995, Plank had the idea for a T-shirt that wicked sweat and kept athletes cool, dry, and light. He’d become frustrated by having to change out his sweat-soaked cotton T-shirt over and over again during two-a-days. And that’s when the thought hit him – "there has to be something better."
Upon graduating from Maryland in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in business administration, Plank started his business, setting his dream in motion. He went on a mission to find the perfect fabric – performance synthetics, and the perfect fit – compression. Ultimately, he launched Under Armour (NYSE: UA) later in the year as the performance alternative to old athletic apparel.
It all started in the basement of his grandmother's townhouse in Georgetown. Plank's new business headquarters was literally underground, forcing him to hit the road to spread the Under Armour gospel.
With a few boxes of his new shirts in the back of a beat-up Ford Explorer, Plank called every equipment manager in the Atlantic Coast Conference and reached out to his former football teammates, giving them samples and asking them to spread the word about his innovative product.
After 19 years of inspiring athletes to "Protect this House," Plank now oversees a company with more than 11,000 employees.
Plank has received a wide variety of professional accolades that demonstrate his growing influence within the industry. Now 43, he was most recently ranked #3 on Forbes' "Most Powerful CEOs 40 And Under" and #12 on Fortune Magazine's prestigious "40 Under 40" list, which accounts for influence, power and future potential.