Entrepreneurs: The Hippest Cat in France

Airness, the country's hottest sports-apparel brand, got a leg up from an African immigrant with a busted knee

French businessman Malamine Koné is talking a big game. A very big game. The founder and CEO of sportswear maker Airness is explaining his goal of swiftly boosting his company's 2005 predominantly French sales of $150 million to rival those of global giant Nike's $14.7 billion in 2005. Sound a touch fanciful? Don't tell him that. "You know where Puma was five years ago? Deeply troubled," Koné says of the now surging German-American sportswear group, whose sales last year exceeded $2 billion. "And six years ago, Airness scarcely existed. We didn't get this far this fast worrying about what we supposedly can't do."


Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!