Featured on the UMD Alumni Blog
By Kimberly Marselas ’00
Scott Plank ’88 was a partner in one of the best entrepreneurship stories to come out of the University of Maryland, overseeing Under Armour’s global supply chain and technology infrastructure, its retail expansion and the transformation of the Baltimore company’s physical presence during his 14 years as an executive there.
Looking to support others with an entrepreneurial spirit, Plank left the apparel giant in 2012 to focus on his impact-minded venture portfolio and a development company that specializes in creating vibrant work-life hubs.
Plank’s War Horse Cities brought to life two major components of the University of Maryland’s thriving Discovery District: WeWork College Park, an amenity-filled co-working space, and The Hall CP, a 20,000-square foot, indoor-outdoor dining, entertainment and community-gathering venue that opened in January.
For Plank — a self-described financier of low-income housing projects-turned T-shirt maker-turned developer and med-tech logistics innovator — it’s not enough to create beautiful buildings. He sees himself as a “convener,” bringing partners together to support job growth and opportunities within communities that have a need.
“Collaboration is something we pride ourselves on,” Plank says. “What was most helpful to us in College Park was that the university has a decades-long relationship with the city, and the city and the university wanted to look at ways they could provide more excitement and experiences to the people who live at the university and those who live around it. War Horse Cities is that bridge.”
Plank’s interest in the Discovery District — home to startups, UMD spinoffs, the Capital One Tech Incubator and The Hotel at The University of Maryland — helped convert an industrial eyesore into the shining gem at the center of a $2 billion revitalization project.
“Scott Plank saw the vision for the Discovery District as a dynamic place where arts, technology, innovation, food and community come together to enhance Greater College Park, and he made significant investments to realize the vision,” says Ken Ulman, the university’s chief strategy officer for economic development.
Plank’s work in College Park is a homecoming of sorts. He majored in architecture and urban planning at Maryland, beginning to understand how racial inequality influenced urban environments and how policy and partnerships might effect change.
After college, Plank traveled throughout Eastern Europe following the fall of the Berlin wall and sold Soviet memorabilia. He learned Spanish and bought from local craftspeople in Guatemala. And when Hurricane Andrew devastated South Florida, Plank moved to Miami and set up a home renovation company that helped rebuild hard-hit communities.
Now a father of three with an MBA in finance, Plank says he continues to look for new ideas that make him ask, “How can I make myself useful here?” At Under Armour, he became an Angel Investor at WeWork and backed the company’s San Francisco debut with his money and relationship building skills. He has taken the company’s “Do What You Love” motto to heart.
Over the last year, Plank, 54, co-founded and became CEO of MissionGO and MediGO, two companies seeking to revolutionize logistics. In the case of MediGO, that means streamlining the logistics and tracking of organs and other critical medical material. MissionGO was inspired by work at the University’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site and the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore.
Plank is a man who gets excited about drones and their potential to reimagine how built environments work, whether they’re delivering a classic Ledo’s pizza to a hungry crowd in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor or lifting kidneys for research across a desert in Nevada.
Though organ transplantation has long faced issues related to timely and carefully coordinated transfers, pandemic travel restrictions have underscored the need for better logistics and resource management in healthcare, Plank says.
His initial interest in the med-tech logistics field was inspired by his philanthropic pursuits. Plank’s family foundation and War Horse Cities’ not-for-profit arm have given more than $20 million to various causes in the last 10 years.
Earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic, Plank teamed with Lawrence M. Macks, co-chairman and CEO of Chesapeake Realty Partners, and offered to match up $40,000 in donations for the university’s Student Crisis Fund.
The payoff from $13,000 in savings that Plank rolled into Under Armour during its infancy has allowed him to pick and choose his entrepreneurial and philanthropic projects. Given that, there’s one attribute he wants in any partner, be it a fellow investor, a construction partner or a university.
“What we always look for is shared values,” Plank says. “The only way you can really know what people are going to do in the future is if you have shared values and those people have integrity to do what they say they’re going to do.”