Nike: A startup story from a lie

Tram Ho

The company imagines itself

 Nike: Câu chuyện khởi nghiệp từ một lời nói dối - Ảnh 1.

In 1962, founder Phil Knight was about to graduate from Stanford and was looking for ideas for his dissertation. As a university long distance runner, Knight had the idea of ​​importing shoes from Japan with the same quality as Puma or Adidas, which was very famous back then. This idea stems from the Japanese series of cameras replacing the dominance of German cameras in the US market.

After graduating, Knight remained haunted by the idea even though he did not own any shoe company and only saw a few Japanese shoes worn by soldiers who were held captive by the Japanese during World War II. about.

 Nike: Câu chuyện khởi nghiệp từ một lời nói dối - Ảnh 2.

Phil Knight

Knowing that he needs to take advantage of and connect with Japanese manufacturers before it is too late, Knight plans to travel to the land of the rising sun even though he has no experience in the shoe business. As described by the founder Phil Knight later, he just got the idea and started implementation (Just Do It).

In November 1962, Knight traveled to Japan and began his journey to explore the shoe industry. In Kobe City, he visited a shoe store owned by the Onitsuka Tiger company found on the street and the quality of the shoes was so good that Knight decided to import them back to the United States.

Interestingly, Knight recently graduated from college, has no capital or owns any company or industry relationship. But taking advantage of his advantage of being an American, Knight introduced himself as the director of a shoe distribution company and wanted to talk to the owner of Onitsuka. Even the name of this distribution company was invented by Knight and he offered to become Onitsuka’s representative in America.

Ironically, this offer was approved despite the fact that Knight had nothing at hand and Onitsuka had little interest in the international market.

In 1963, Knight received the first shipment of 12 pairs of shoes imported from Japan and he began to sell them on his own car at any sports track he could go to.

Realizing this kind of business was going nowhere, Knight turned to someone who knew more about sneakers than he did, as former coach Bill Bowerman, who once led him at university. At that time Bowerman was quite famous in the American sports world when he had coached many Olympic athletes.

 Nike: Câu chuyện khởi nghiệp từ một lời nói dối - Ảnh 3.

Immediately after being introduced, Bowerman liked shoes imported from Japan and wanted to collaborate. So in January 1964, the two formed Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS), the forerunner of Nike with a sum of $ 1,000. The entire money is used to order 300 pairs of shoes.

Thanks to Bowerman’s connections their first shipment sold out in three months. In the first year, BRS reached sales of 8,000 USD and the company started to hire employees to operate. By 1965, BRS’s revenue reached 20,000 USD and began to open branches of its own business.


While Knight was busy with the business, the BRS revolution came from Bowerman. It was this man who had the merit to bring Jogging to the United States.

In 1966, Bowerman wrote a book on running and sold more than 1 million copies. Naturally, Nike was one of the first companies to promote running shoes in the US.

In addition, Bowerman also regularly removes shoes imported from Onitsuka to improve, see how they are done and add different materials and parts to bring efficiency to the shoes. Gradually, Bowerman began passing on notes to Onitsuka so that they could build on his innovative shoes.

In 1968, the Olympic Games held in Mexico helped Nike successfully promote The Cortez product line designed by Bill. In 1969, BRS achieved sales of 300,000 USD. But the sales of The Cortez line caused the BRS to be out of stock while Onitsuka did not increase production. This local Japanese shoe maker just wants to meet domestic demand, then sends what’s left over to the United States.

Understand that if you want to expand your business, Knight and Bowerman need to get rid of the label of just being a distributor. They both found themselves keeping The Cortez’s designs and having the right to produce it when their contract with Onitsuka ended. Fortunately, the deadline was 1972, just before the Munich Olympics.

 Nike: Câu chuyện khởi nghiệp từ một lời nói dối - Ảnh 4.

First, Knight began to design the logo and name for the new shoe company. One employee suggested it be called Nike- after the Greek god of victory. In terms of logo, Knight went to a nearby university and paid $ 35 to a design student he came across to produce a comma as it is today.

In Japan, instead of quietly looking for a partner, Knight organized a recruitment of manufacturers across Japan to supply designer shoes for Nike. From here on out, Nike’s journey has barely grown. They became the largest sports shoes company in the US in 1989 and even spread to the world thanks to smart marketing strategies and model outsourcing (Outsourcing) to take advantage of cheap labor.

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Source : Genk