Nick Woodman, founder, CEO and Chairman of GoPro, created the now successful brand of wearable cameras. His net worth is approximately 175,000,000,000 dollars. Just over ten years since the initiation of the company, Nick is now among the youngest self-made billionaires of the 1,426 individuals on the Billionaires list last year according to Forbes.

Nick was an avid surfer during his college years and a B plus student. He also had a geeky side, his passion was to build remote control gliders. Nick was the all-American teenager, growing up in posh Silicon Valley, his father was an investment banker.

However, before his phenomenal success with GoPro Nick failed big style with two online start-ups. In the early 2000’s he tried a venture named Funbug, and raised four million dollars for it, unfortunately it died in the dotcom crash when Nick was twenty six. The other business venture was a website named which aimed at selling electronic goods for no more than a two dollar mark-up, it failed to get off the ground and was quickly shut down.

After the failure of two business’s Nick was driven by a fear of failure and the desire to build a product that wasn’t available… He took the collapse of his business ventures personally so took himself off to Australia and Indonesia for several months to surf. Whilst surfing he wanted to capture the experience to share with family and friends. He found that the existing equipment was both extremely expensive and inadequate for getting the quality of footage he needed in the water. His next move was to fix the “problem” and start a business that filled the gap in the market. By 2005 his first product was born: a 35mm film camera (the HERO 35mm) that simply attached via a wrist mount.

nick woodman

Nick is quoted as saying that: “I feel like in a world where we all try to figure our place and our purpose here, your passions are one of your most obvious guides. They lead you along life’s path and whether that’s to your career or to the people that lead you to your career.”

Nicks fear of failure led to him spending up to eighteen hours a day at his desk, his love of gadgetry and his self-confessed geeky side, meant he could drill pieces together for prototypes, switch to a sewing machine and stitch the wrist straps, and at the same time make 3 AM phone calls to China to obtain the right parts for his camera. He was totally committed to succeed. He also moved back into his parents’ home giving himself a time frame of four years to make something out of his idea. Five tips for success according to Nick Woodward are: (1) Follow your passions, (2) Fear failure, (3) Obsess over your product, (4) Learn to sell, (5) Evolve or die.

It took ten years for GoPro to evolve from selling 35mm film cameras to HD quality, panoramic digital video camcorders. There were seven iterations of cameras during that decade; each new version building on the shortcomings of its predecessor.

Nick realises that whilst the technology is fascinating (technology is the tool), it is the person behind the camera, you are the soul…The ultimate message is, by communicating your visual narrative with a worldwide audience, you can finally be a hero.


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