It starts with the shoe

Once upon a time, a business school graduate started selling Japanese track and field shoes from the trunk of his car. In a couple of years, the business became profitable enough to open a retail store. Then he started manufacturing his own line of branded shoes for track and field athletes. After mastering the shoe business, he introduced a line of sportswear for this sport. And in a couple of decades since inception, became the behemoth in the sportswear and equipment industry.

This is Phil Knight’s story and the building of Nike!

What is special about Nike is the strategy of returning to its roots in whichever sport it chooses to enter. Nike understands that what they do best is manufacture a pair of shoes. It started with track and field shoes and went on to design apparel and accessories for athletes in this sport. Then when they chose to move to some other sport like football, they first  started with making shoes for the football players. Their expertise in shoe designing and manufacturing helped them build loyalty in the football playing community. After establishing the brand, it made the entire ecosystem for the players of the sport from headbands to socks to the ball itself. Similar cycle went on to continue in each sport.

The idea is to embrace your roots to set a foot in the door and then build an ecosystem around it to grow in the industry. You got to choose what you are best at doing and exploit that core competency when you are going for extensions. If that’s something you present to a new set of customers, chances are they are going to love it. It will be comparatively much easier for you to enter this new market as well as launch other branded products in the market. To put it simply, identify what’s the shoe for your business and start with it.

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