In 1996, while sporting giants Nike, Adidas, and Reebok were busy trying to outduel each other- developing new sports technology innovations in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage, little did they know was that someone else was working triple duty in his grandmother’s basement stitching various fabrics together to create the ultimate alternative to the cotton t-shirt. More than that, with this flagship product, this person had an ambitious plan to shake up the athletic apparel industry.
During that period, most of the major athletic shoes and apparel companies were focused on innovation relating to shoes and sporting equipment, and there was very little research and development done with apparel in mind. This was the opening this innovator was looking for. BUT rather than trying to dethrone Nike or the other major players, this new comer leveraged his ultimate hybrid creation and began laying the foundation for his empire.
Even so, going head-to-head with the big players was not going to be an easy task. First, those companies had stretched the limits of innovation and saturated the market with enough new and good products and services to last several years. Nonetheless, this pioneer understood that success should not be measured by the abundance of good products and/or services one company or several companies put out in a given space.
He believed that even if the major players had rolled out a planet full of athletic shoes, sporting equipment, and apparel, there was still enough room to make those products and services exponentially better. And with the foundation solidly laid, Kevin Plank launched Under Armour. And in its first year, Under Armour made $17,000. Fast-forward twenty years – Under Armour now generates ~$3 billion in annual revenue.
So, how do you dominate a competitive industry? How do you upstage a dominant company? You don’t. The interesting thing about life is that it always offers you an alternative strategy – one that ensures you come out on top. Kevin Plank, a forward-thinking opportunist, struck the iron while it was hot; meaning, he capitalized on the opportunity to build, not a better sporting apparel, but the world’s best sporting apparel.
Remember, there is at least one thing you can do better than anyone else. The key is finding out what that one thing is. Once you find out what “it” is, create it, market it, produce it, and give the world an opportunity to taste your creation and participate in your success.