In 1993, AND1 began as a graduate school project partnership of Seth Berger, Jay Coen Gilbert and Tom Austin while they were graduate students at the University of Pennsylvania. The company name is derived from a phrase used by basketball broadcasters: when a player is fouled while shooting, makes the shot and makes the awarded foul shot as well, they score the points for the made basket "and 1" for the made free throw. Early advertising strategies, used to distinguish their products from others, included other basketball slogans and trash talk, such as "Pass. Save Yourself The Embarrassment".
In mid of 1996, NBA star Stephon Marbury became the first spokesman for AND1 and once had his own name brand AND1 shoe called "Starbury".
In late 1998, a videotape containing streetball stunts was delivered to AND1 by Ron Naclerio, coach of the Benjamin Cardozo High school team in Queens, New York. The tape contained low quality camera moves, poor resolution and nearly indecipherable audio featuring a streetballer by the name of Rafer Alston. At the time, Alston was a student at Fresno State who had entered the 1998 NBA Draft. The videotape would soon be known as the "Skip tape", referring to Alston's streetball nickname "Skip to my Lou". Alston later signed AND1's first endorsement deal.
In 1999 atHaverford College in Philadelphia, AND1 shot their first series of commercials and print ads incorporating NBA players Darrell Armstrong, Rex Chapman, Ab Osondu, Raef LaFrentz, Toby Bailey, and Miles Simon. When the traditional marketing campaign proved unsuccessful, a strategy was formed to use the "Skip tape". It was edited and reprinted into 50,000 copies and over the next eight weeks, distributed across basketball camps, clinics, record labels. The tape would become the first "Mix Tape", and quickly made Alston into a celebrity. When AND1 became a product partner with FootAction, this strategy evolved into a national program. They perform radical spin moves and dunks. They also perform and have their own company. Beginning in the Summer of 1999, a free AND1 Mix Tape was given with any purchase. Approximately 200,000 tapes were distributed in the span of 3 weeks, making this promotion one of the most successful in U.S. retail history. Filmmakers were then sent across the country to capture and find the next streetball legend.