Shoe Dog : A memoir by the creator of Nike by Phil Knight


Phil Knight

  Startup, Marketing, Venture Capital

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A sequel and behind the scenes of Nike


Phil Knight- Early days:

  • During the '60s and '70s, there was no concept of running shoes. Phil had a great mentor names Bowerman who was an exceptional running coach and was constantly testing different types of shoes.
  • Phil went on an international trip and landed in Japan where he used $1000 which he borrowed from his father to import Tiger shoes(cheap running shoes) from Japan.
  • From there he founded Blue Ribbon and started selling shoes in the United States.


Blue Ribbon- The Beginning:

  • Blue Ribbon is what eventually became the brand we know as Nike. 
  • Blue Ribbon was always cash funded till it went public after decades.
  • They reinvested every dollar back into the company by ordering or manufacturing more and more shoes.
  • By the end of each year, the company was seen doubling in size.
  • At the time there was no such thing as venture capital and the concept was practically non-existent. The company was rejected by banks as they did not have "enough assets".


Constant Grind:

  • Blue Ribbon was kept very lean as they worked from storerooms that used to be filled with nothing but shoes.
  • Phil's unique attitude was that he succeeded to surround himself with other shoe fanatics or shoe dogs.
  • Shoe dogs refer to people who passionately and fully invest themselves into producing, selling, buying, designing shoes.
  • They all were passionate about shoes. Phil stresses the importance of the right attitude and motivation to achieve big goals.
  • They often struggled with timely imports, payment issues, failure to meet demand each year.


Birth Of The Swoosh

  • The team at Blue Ribbon had started a new line of shoes in secret. They manufactured these themselves and called Nike.
  • They did this despite their pertinent acquisition by their Japanese exporter. This action caused legal disputes which went to trial and even involved the FBI. 
  • The name 'Nike' originated from one of the employees who had a dream about it.
  • Nike was born and had a rocky start with problems in production, hiring, factories, quality issues etc. 
  • Despite the numerous problems that Nike faced, the senior management team handled them well.
  • Eventually, Nike surpassed Adidas and other brands. They diversified their production across various countries. 

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