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nick woodman billionaire Inspiration

From Broke to Billionaire – The GoPro Story

By Joseph Cha on May 20th 2014

The Underdog Story

What do Frodo, Luke Skywalker, and Julia Roberts (I forget her character’s name, but you know what movie I’m talking about) have in common? Against all odds they overcame their seemingly impossible circumstances, and became successful.  We all love the underdog stories that turn ordinary characters into heroes, and that’s exactly what Nick Woodman became, and eventually created.

[Rewind: Father Captures Child’s Toy Flight to Space with Gopro]

The Broke

Once upon a time Nick Woodman was an ambitious 24 year old who raised 4 million dollars to create a web startup called Funbug. After losing all the money in 2 years, in 2002 Woodman did what any sensible broke recent college grad would do, he traveled around the world to surf. It was during this time where Woodman began to experiment with what I call ‘surfies’ (selfies while you’re surfing), with a 35mm camera attached to his wrist with by a rubberband.

first gopro

Nick was inspired by the results of his surfies because the up close photos made him look like a professional surfer. Nick Woodman then decided to develop this rubberband camera into a product for surfers that allow them to get professional looking images of themselves, and that’s how the name “GoPro” was born.

The Work

Instead of finding investors and potentially facing the heartbreak of losing someone else’s money, this new venture was solely funded by Nick, his wife, and some family members. Nick started by selling the 35mm cameras out of his van to local surfshops, and eventually he started producing a model that could record digitally. Business started picking up and Nick was earning enough money to take a break and spend a nice day at the racetrack.

gopro van

When Nick was at the racetrack there was an option to rent a camera for $100 for 30 minutes. Nick thought this was ridiculous, especially since he had a camera that he could mount on the roll bar of the car himself, which he did. This caught the attention of the other drivers, and after seeing the footage Woodman had the epiphany that his surfies camera could be made for anything and everything.

The Billionaire

nick woodman billionaire

After his epiphany, the rest is history. In 2012, the market value of the GoPro company was 2.25 billion and Nick Woodman’s estimated worth was 1.3 billion. Adding to the success, at yesterday’s market close GoPro filed for a $100 Million IPO. Many people call Nick Woodman irresponsible, especially when he decided to go surfing around the world after his first startup went under. But if being irresponsible is what it takes to be a billionaire, then sign me up, I’ll be at the beach.

[via petapixel]


I’m a photographer and cinematographer based in Southern California. When I don’t have a camera in my face I enjoy going to the movies and dissecting the story telling and visual aesthetics.

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  2. Greg Faulkner

    Jeez,so many ads at the beginning of the video I stopped watching

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  3. anonymous

    Erin Brockovich? – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0195685/

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