Phil Knight & Purvi Sankhla

For 15 years now, IQONIC, the incubator of Tilburg University, has been guiding starting entrepreneurs to the top. With advice, coaching, a workplace and funding, they have helped many success stories become reality. In this series of short articles, we let entrepreneurs from the incubator react to famous statements by well-known entrepreneurs: do they think the same, what drives them and where do they stand diametrically opposed to each other? You can read it here!

Phil Knight (Nike) & Purvi Sankhla (Yopla)

Phil who?

Knight. Not as a knight, but as an entrepreneur, co-founder and chairman emeritus of Nike Inc and previously chairman and CEO of the company. He is also the owner of the stop motion film production company Laika. Knight co-founded Blue Ribbon Sports with running coach Bill Bowerman in 1964, initially as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger. They started with an initial capital of only $1200. In 1971, the company continued as Nike Inc. Knight originally wanted to call it Dimension 6. Jeff Johnson, Knight's first employee, came up with the name Nike - pronounced naikie. Phil Knight on the Nike name: 'A lot of things were going through my head. The first was that Johnson had pointed out that all the big brands have short names. Two syllables or less. And that they all have a hard sound in the name, a letter like the K or the X, which sticks in your head. That all made sense. And it applied to Nike. I liked the fact that Nike was the goddess of victory. I wanted to win. Fun detail, Nike's swoosh was designed by Carolyn Davidson in 1971 for just $35. Knight was not wildly enthusiastic about the logo. 'I'll get used to it,' was his first reaction.

Why he is successful:

He saw the demand, dared to take risks and had the ability to inspire others. Knight also understood that celebrities who are adored by ordinary mortals (and young people in particular) are uniquely able to spread the positive message of a brand. In 1984, it became clear how successful using a star can be. Then Nike made a deal with the popular basketball player Michael Jordan. Within a year, every American boy wanted a pair of Air Jordans at his feet.

Famous statement:

"When you really understand who you are, it enables you to fight and believe."

Who is Purvi then?

Purvi is an explorer and observer. That led to the founding of Yopla. Purvi won the Ideation Award with her company K.I.S.S. during the first edition of the Tilburg University Challenge. The team developed an interactive website that allows you to put personalized grocery planning in automation mode for better  health and climate impact, while saving time and money. With this award, worth €2000, they can continue to improve their project. Purvi´s mission with Yopla. is to redirect food choices towards better health and climate. "Our idea is to develop a platform that develops a personalized shopping list that is good for health and the environment," says Purvi. "

More Purvi? Visit:

Purvi, do you agree with Phil Knight's quote?

Yes, very much so! Whether as an individual or as a start-up; it is by understanding 'who you are' that you get most things done. Only when you understand who you are, do you know what you need, does your belief system become stronger with logic/reasons and ultimately you have more courage to fight for it.

How do you use the quote or your interpretation of it in your entrepreneurship?

By observing what is going on in my head and around me. This comes from experience in practice. I have seen many times during brainstorming sessions that when the self-affirming points come up, it brings more creativity and innovation to the table.

What success has that brought?

It has helped us enormously in building up and propagating our concept K.I.S.S. Keep It Smart & Sustainable, having seen where there is a gap, bringing in collaborations and innovations every time and daring to take steps.

Name one thing that has always stuck with you from your time at IQONIC.

Know and test assumptions. We were told that we should always critique and test all assumptions behind our idea or next steps or claim. For example: instead of assuming that your target audience would pay for problem 'xyz', you should check whether they have the decision-making power to actually buy it or whether it was just an assumption.

IQONIC - represents and supports all aspects of entrepreneurship within Tilburg University. They help students, alumni, academics and employees of Tilburg University to further develop their entrepreneurial mindset, so that they can make a difference in society. IQONIC does this by stimulating and supporting creativity and innovation.

Did you know that: The Tilburg University Challenge will take place for the 3rd time this year, with a grand finale on 7 July 2022? Would you like to participate in the TiU Challenge or be present at the finals, please check