Cupid’s Cup 2016 | @UofMaryland @UnderArmour #KevinPlank

In completing my research on high growth ventures created by students the case of Kevin Plank (Under Armour) and the University of Maryland was part of my data collection and highlights many of the ideas uncovered. Cupid’s Cup, the annual business competition sponsored by Plank and Under Armour, completed its final round Thursday April 7 on the campus of the University of Maryland. (At the time of this post you could watch the event here)

As usual, the finals featured a passionate speech by Plank and an awesome, psyche up video by Under Armour. Plank’s message about Under Armour and his vision for Baltimore are big (backed by investment on the Baltimore waterfront — see the plans for Port Covington). I would not doubt this guy and his team. Btw, I must confess I bought Under Armour stock ($UA) a number of years ago and have been pleased with their performance.

The judges for the final round included Plank, Arianna Huffington, Dan Gilbert and Wes Moore — truly an accomplished group across a variety of fields/industries.

The 6 presenting finalists were – Javazen, Plova Chewing Gum, Wolf & Shepherd, MyBestBox, SixFoods and Headbands of Hope. The winner was Javazen – the hybrid green tea and coffee drink developed by students at the University of Maryland.

Headbands of Hope creates headbands for kids undergoing cancer treatment; mybestbox is a monthly subscription box promoting healthier lifestyles, Plova gum cleans your teeth between brushings, Six Foods makes bug chips that kids seem to like, and Wolf & Shepherd make dress shoes that perform like athletic shoes.

Nice diversity of ventures, all generating revenue and entering vibrant markets and making impact. Look for more from these teams. Coverage of the Kevin Plank’s Cupid Cup in the Balitmore Business Journal. For the official Cupid’s Cup website.

Great Entrepreneurship Interview with Kevin Plank on ESPN with Scott Van Pelt | $UA

Really solid radio interview with University of Maryland student entrepreneur Kevin Plank (CEO and founder of Under Armour). Some funny stuff because its ESPN, including “We really hate the guys out West.” But, Plank  talks a lot competition and has some important messages about focus in the early days of a company’s existence. He stresses the focus in the original niche and not expanding too quickly.  This is a very crucial point we make in working with young entrepreneurs who often think about mass markets before really achieving strong product market fit. I refer to this as the Amazon principle — early amazon made their name and earned customers through book sales and proved their platform for e-commerce. This early work and focus laid a strong base and value proposition that the complex corporation we see today exploits.  Plank speaks about spending 5 years working on a shirt (the first five years of Under Armour’s existence) as crucial to the companies long term strength (well before women’s, shoes, uniforms, hunting, etc). Again, great interview for consumers and entrepreneurs alike.

Kevin Plank, Under Armour – ESPN.

Dingman Center Relaunches Site | Cupid’s Cup on Vimeo

Saw a tweet today regarding the relaunch of the Dingman Center Website. Check out their calendar, they have a lot going on.

Also, noticed that they released a Cupid’s Cup video about one month ago. Of course it features Maryland Alumn / Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.

Cupid’s Cup from University of Maryland on Vimeo.


Dorm Room Entrepreneurs from

Found an interesting article on student entrepreneurs when researching Under Armour founder Kevin Plank. This article, by Archana Rajan, highlights some of the actions that various colleges and universities (including the Smith School at the University of Maryland — where Plank studied) are doing to support and encourage student entrepreneurs.

While profiling Maryland Grad and CrookedMonkey T-Shirts founder Micha Weinblatt, Rajan writes,

Now 26 years old, Weinblatt owns a business that has booked more than $700,000 in sales during 2009. And he couldn’t have done it without the help he got from the University’s of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship–a business boot camp that helps students create, launch and grow their own companies.

College Hunks Hauling Junk is in the house. Thanks
College Hunks Hauling Junk is featured in the In Pictures: Dorm Room Entrepreneurs feature at

“The Dingman Center has been a tremendous source of advice for me, especially since I didn’t go to the business school,” says Weinblatt. Advice provided by the center taught him essential business skills, like how to forecast and monitor sales. It introduced him to a network of like-minded student entrepreneurs he could rely on for support and as a sounding board for new ideas. And it provided access to a network of successful entrepreneurs outside the school.

Weinblatt then describes his various interactions with Kevin Plank. From Rajan:

“During one of their meetings, Plank told him to concentrate on what the company does best; as a result, CrookedMonkey focused on its strength in the wholesale business, as opposed to selling directly to consumers over the Internet. Weinblatt says the advice helped the company succeed despite a recession.

Its great to hear that Dingman and Plank are available to students from across the campus and not just the business school. This is a sign of an open, diverse entrepreneurial eco-system on campus.

There are compelling statistics surrounding the growth of entrepreneurship centers and classes and many insights into the low-risk nature of founding a firm while on campus.

Other schools and programs mentioned include MIT, University of California Berkely, University of Pennsylvania, and Northeastern University.

There is pictorial with the article titled In Pictures: Dorm Room Entrepreneurs

Dorm Room Entrepreneurs –

Research on Under Armour and Kevin Plank

My regular readers know that I have been research student entrepreneurs and various other elements of entrepreneurship on campus for a number of years. Often times looking at cases of students and their firms.

I am pleased to let you all know that I have a new blog focused on one particular case of a student launching a high impact, high growth venture from the campus. The case is Kevin Plank, his company is

A snapshot of the Under Armour logo outside of the Under Armour store at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, MD.

Under Armour, and he conceived of, launched, and initially funded the firm while he was a student-athlete at the University of Maryland. I sometimes like to refer to Under Armour as Plank’s House.

The new blog is called Under Armour Files and it is dedicated to exploring and understanding the story of Kevin Plank, the University of Maryland and Under Armour Inc.  Hope you all  check it out and let me know what you think. All feedback will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Great Video Speech of Kevin Plank of Under Armour

This video of a speech that Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Under Armour, gave at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business in October of 2008. (hat tip MBAs Portal out of India — looks like an agreggator of some sort).

This is a long video, but worth watching. Great hearing him discuss how he came up with the idea as a Sr. at the University of Maryland. Fun stories and insights in this video.

Pitch to Under Armour CEO, Win $15K — U Maryland

Calling all University of Maryland student entrepreneurs and recent graduates! Do you own and run your own business? Do you think YOU are one of the best UM entrepreneurs? Tell your story to the whole University and to one of UM’s most successful entrepreneurs, Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour. If you convince Kevin that you are the best, in addition to a great connection to Kevin and other prominent alums, you will take home the Cupid’s Cup, an annual award to the best UM student entrepreneur, and $15K in cash!” —  from UMD.

I am fortunate to live near UMD and visit their great b-school periodically. I recently attended one of their Pitch Dingman contests (a weekly event for students to pitch new ventures; the end of month session awards $2500) and will be posting on the event later this week. They have put a lot of thought and time into building an entrepreneurial eco-system and there is much to gain for campus entrepreneurs in College Park, MD.

Check out the Cupid’s Cup Website to see how an entrepreneurial business school puts it together.

Campus Sports Markets: BC-BU Hockey; BC + Under Armour

A college sports edition of campus entrepreneurship for y’all. Yesterday, the WSJ feature an article by Neal E. Boudette exploring the life-long rivalry between the current Boston College and Boston University men’s hockey coaches. Here is how the story opens:

On New Year’s Eve in 1962, Jack Parker and Jerry York lined up against each other in a high-school ice-hockey game — and started a rivalry that has become one of the most extraordinary in college sports.

After high school, Mr. Parker played at Boston University and Mr. York at Boston College. Mr. Parker later became the coach at BU, and Mr. York at BC.

Now, after nearly half a century of going toe-to-toe, each man’s success is unexcelled — and they are still fierce competitors. Mr. York has accumulated more wins — 827 — than any other active college coach. Mr. Parker is only seven wins behind him.

The piece goes on to detail the intensity of the rivalry and some of the amazing feats of each man and his respective University. It also reminds us of the important role that athletics play in the modern campus marketplace.

One of the reasons that the campus is the frontier of entrepreneurship in the US is that it is a huge market in its own right and can either support full ventures or serve as a proving ground for various products (Gatorade) and services (FedEx & Kinkos individually, though now joined together as FedEx Kinkos).

The sports submarket of the campus market is huge in its own right, complex, and based on passion that sports can and does inspire in fans and from time to time the masses of casual observers.

In related campus sports market news, Boston College and Under Armour (founded by one of the most succesfull campus entrepreneurs of the last 15 years, Kevin Plan) have inked a deal whereby UA will become the schools exclusive and offical athletic apparel provider.

This is the latest aggressive move by Under Armour in declaring its goal to be a global sports brand. Reebok, which is based in Boston, is currently the exclusive provider for BC and can be none too pleased by Under Armour’s move into its backyard — not to mention taking a high profile partner.

From an article in the Boston Herald by Christine McConville,

Under Armour has scored a touchdown in the collegiate apparel game – and beaten out a local company on its home turf.

The Baltimore-based athletic gear company topped Canton-based sportsgear maker Reebok and won a lucrative, six-year deal to outfit Boston College’s athletes.

In July 2010, Under Armour – that tight-fitting, moisture-wicking clothing preferred by very fit athletes – will become the exclusive official outfitter for BC’s football and basketball squads, and 29 other varsity teams.

Campus Entrepreneur Goes to Snatch Nike’s Soul!

One of our favorite campus entrepreneurs of all time is Kevin Plank, founder of Under Armour (the short story is he came up with the idea for breathable undergarments while a football player at U of Maryland).

His company is making news right now as it launches its first line of running shoes. As an on again off again jogger and one time marathon participant, I know how serious the running shoe market is.

Foot injuries are a huge concern (from blisters to ligaments to plantar fasciitis) for all runners and shoes are seen as the single biggest factor in protecting feet. I have worn the same model (updated versions) of a single shoe for 5 years — the Asics Gel Kayanos. Before that I wore the Brooks Beast for 3 or 4 years.

I say good luck to Plank and the crew at Under Armour. Perhaps I will try a pair out next summer. If they want to send me a pair, I wear a size 15, but would be willing to drive to HQ in Baltimore for a fitting.

From the article by Ryan Sharrow of the Washington Business Journal,

Company officials said the shoes will be lighter and more technologically advanced than those sold by competitors, including Nike, which dominates the industry.

“Today is a very, very big deal for us,” Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said to an audience of about 75 people at Industria, a converted warehouse in the city’s meat-packing district. “Running footwear is the soul of any athletic brand.”

The shoes will launch Jan. 31 — one day before the Super Bowl. They’ll be priced between $80 and $120.

Executives teased a “rough cut” of the TV campaign — called “Athletes Run” — surrounding the shoe, set to debut Jan. 1 at 12:01 a.m. The commercial features various Under Armour endorsers running in the shoes at points across the world, including Baltimore, D.C., New York, Chicago and Rome.

I haven’t seen their advertising yet, but the focus on cities is smart. The urban landscape is often the most inspiring for runners and joggers — whether they live in big cities or are visiting.

In the end, my assessment is that winning a share of the running market demands great relations and knowledge sharing with the owners of running shops throughout the US. Many runners, fearing injury, will go into a running shops for a fitting until they find shoes that feels good (meaning perform pain free). The owners and workers in these stores have incredible powers in influencing the purchasing decisions of ‘real’ running shoe consumers.

My favorite part from the article, is the quote that running footwear is the soul of any athletic brand. This is definitely true of Nike from what I know and I interpret that to mean Under Armour intends to be a global brand active lifestyle brand on the order of Nike and part of that strategy is taking Nike’s Soul (remember Bowerman & the Oregon Track Team are the foundation of Nike as the Maryland Football Team is the foundation of UA).

I also happen to believe that UA’s customer base is younger than Nike’s and there are many UA customers who will become runners in the future (as they age a bit more and worry about health). Any thoughts?

Fiorina and Plank (Under Armour) Support U of MD

Probably one of my favorite campus entrepreneur’s of all time is Kevin Plank (founder and CEO of Under Armour. He was a football player at the Univ of Maryland and student at the Smith School of Business when he came up with the idea for Under Armour.) He and fellow Smith School alumn, Carly Fiorina, have ponied up some cash for a student entrepreneurship fund at Smith.

Smith always seems to have a lot going on with entrepreneurship and was the launchpad of Dana Lande, a campus entrepreneur I profiled awhile back.