Creating Wealth 101 - How to Build Wealth From Nothing
Kevin Plank's Real Time Net Worth is $4 Billion according to Forbes 2015 rankings of the worlds Billionaires.
Billionaire Kevin Plank had an epiphany while attending St. John’s College High School in North Bethesda Maryland. He had recently been kicked out of the expensive Georgetown Prep, a private Jesuit school for failing classes and getting into a drunken brawl with some older college football players from Georgetown.
Plank suddenly came to the realization that what he thought was the “easy” way was really neither the best way nor the easiest. According to Plank, he discovered that “it took longer to write out a cheat sheet for a Latin exam, than it did to actually study for it.”
So many people today are searching for the “easiest way to make money” yet the very same principal applies to making money as it does to learning Latin. What is incredibly compelling about this example is that it comes to us from someone who actually went on to found a $Billion company, Under Armour.
Plank finally started to take school more seriously. After high school he attended one year at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia with the hopes that it would increase his chances of receiving a football scholarship. The academy is well known for its athletics programs that have produced at least a dozen NFL first round draft picks to date. But when no schools came calling Plank enrolled at the University of Maryland and tried out for the football team as a walk on. Plank was no stranger to the gridiron having played all through high school.
[What happens when you read every single one of Google's top 20 search results for the phrase "How to Get Rich."]
Plank found a home on special teams and worked his way up to becoming a team captain. On the field he was known as a “mad man” but off the field he was known as a very charismatic person who was always hustling and always looking for a way to make money on the side. It would be on the football field at University of Maryland however that Plank would have another epiphany; one that would eventually put him on the list of American Billionaires. But that story in a moment.
Kevin Plank’s other business ventures- he was always looking for ways to make money
Looking for ways to make extra money was nothing new to Kevin Plank. Plank loves to tell people that while all of his college buddies were out getting drunk, he was back at the dorm room making money. A couple of early adventures included a flower business, and even selling T-shirts and bracelets at Grateful Dead concerts.
There were other experiences in Planks young life that may have set him on the road to success, or at least helped him along the way. Plank’s mother worked in government for a number of years, and Plank would often find himself hanging out with strangers such as the kids of other government officials. Plank learned at a very young age how to talk to people. He also learned that walking up to someone he didn’t know and introducing himself, really was not that big a deal. Plank believes this ability to communicate with others paid dividends when it came time to marketing his new invention, the Under Armour 0037 compression shirt.
The Little Idea that Turned Big- How wealth is really created
There is a saying in business circles that luck happens when opportunity and preparedness meet. In 1995 there were thousands of other college football players sweating it out on the gridiron just like Kevin Plank. But it was Plank who started to question the status quo. The status quo at that time was that virtually every football player in America was wearing cotton T-shirts under their football gear. Every practice ended with T-shirts that were heavy, uncomfortable and drenched in sweat. Plank came up with the idea that there must be a better material; a material that would wick away the sweat and remain lightweight and comfortable throughout the practice or game.
In theory any other college football player in America could have been the one to invent Under Armour and become a billionaire. But only one did. The one that was prepared. The one who was already looking for ways to make money and the one who had already started other money making ventures. The difference between Plank and everyone else was that Plank was prepared when the opportunity presented itself.
Launching a $Billion Company- Under Armour
Under Armour was founded in 1996 from the basement of Plank’s deceased grandmother’s townhouse in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington DC. Plank had been doing extensive research into synthetic materials that would wick sweat away, as well as support muscles and keep athletes cool in the heat. Planks very first product was the Under Armour HeatGear® T-shirt, which he named the #0037. Planks new T-shirt invention was the very first of its kind anywhere.
At the time he founded the company Kevin Plank was only 23 years old.
Still working from his grandmother’s basement Plank began traveling up and down the East Coast selling his Revolutionary new compression T-shirt out of his car. By the end of 1996, Plank had made his first team sale and Under Armour generated $17,000 in sales. And who was his first customer; none other than the Georgia Tech Football Team.
The following year in 1997, Under Armour introduced the now-famous ColdGear® fabric, which keeps athletes warm, and dry in cold conditions, and then the AllSeasonGear® line, which keeps athletes comfortable between the extremes.
The company began to grow as word of the new T-shirt spread and other schools and football teams signed on as customers. By the end of 1998 the company had outgrown Plank’s grandma’s house and moved to its new headquarters in Baltimore Maryland.
Over the next few years they added products, like shoes and a women’s line of athletic gear. But jump ahead 17 years to 2013 and Under Armour is pushing the $2 billion mark in total sales. Today the company is a multi-billion dollar global brand and the maker of the most innovative performance footwear, apparel, and accessories in the world.
Kevin Plank today
While Plank is still at the helm of Under Armour he is no longer involved in daily operations. In 2007 Plank purchased Sagamore, a 530-acre Thoroughbred horse-racing farm in Glyndon, Maryland. Sagamore has a rich history in horse racing and was once a part of the Vanderbilt estate.
But Plank spends a lot of his time giving back, and has a particular interest in empowering other young entrepreneurs.
Plank is an active supporter of the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business and Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship. He's a member of the University's Board of Trustees and has played an essential role in the development of an endowment fund that the Dingman Center uses to invest in viable startup businesses.
In 2006, he launched the Cupid's Cup Business and Innovation Competition and Showcase, which is named after the Valentine's Day rose business Plank started as an undergrad at Maryland. This fast- growing initiative encourages young entrepreneurs to compete for a chance to build their businesses.
Plank is also a prolific speaker at organizations and universities throughout the country.
Ways to make money- talking points
While still in High School Plank came to the realization that what he thought was the “easy way” in reality turned out to be not so easy. Plank realized that just studying for the Latin exam was actually easier the going through the effort of creating a detailed cheat sheet.
So many people today are looking for ways to cheat the system or the easiest way to make money. You will never build a company up to a $ billion in sales by looking for the easiest way to make money. Developing your own product or service, starting a company and becoming an entrepreneur is the EASY way. There is no cheat sheet for creating real wealth.