As a fullback at the University of Maryland, Kevin Plank found just one thing slowed him down: sweat. He was changing his perspiration-drenched cotton T-shirts every half hour. By his senior year, Plank says he was naive enough to think he could solve the problem--so, of course, he did. In New York City's garment district, Plank found a synthetic fabric that wicks water away from the body, keeping an athlete dry, cool, and light. He designed a T-shirt from the material, then tested it on teammates, and incorporated their suggestions for tighter sleeves and a looser collar. The result was Under Armour Performance Apparel.
Plank graduated in May, 1996, launched his company with $40,000 on five credit cards, and began selling T-shirts to college football teams. Now, he's the official supplier of high-tech apparel for Major League Baseball and the NFL European League. He also outfits 28 domestic NFL and 75 college teams. Plank's latest coup: 42 million fans watched Philadelphia 76ers guard Allen Iverson wear an Under Armour sleeve during the 2001 NBA playoffs. With PR like that, Plank should be able to make Under Armour the internationally recognized brand he's aiming for. No sweat. By Cynthia Daniels