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Endless Summer-Type Holiday Led to GoPro Cameras

Ralph Franklin Posted by Ralph Franklin in Blogs September 24th, 2012

By Ralph Franklin

"Tell me again, how big was that fish you caught?" The fisherman stretches his arms wide.

"Really?" replies the skeptic, while actually thinking, Whoʼs he kidding?

Now, if the fisherman had had a GoPro—one of the cameras you can wear—a photo or video would have ended all doubt.

The HD GoPro’s success is due partly because we’re all photographers, every one of us. And we must share our videos and photos on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook or any of the other social media now available., an Internet marketing research company, reported that 181 million U.S. Internet users watched nearly 40 billion online videos in January 2012. That’s nearly six times the world population watching online video in just one month. YouTube ranked first with 152 million views, and the rest of the pack attracted about 45 to 52 million viewers.

GoPro's Nick Woodman

Up until 2002 the vast majority of the online video footage was shot on cell phones. Enter Nick Woodman, the 36-year-old surfer and art major from the University of California, San Diego.

 Nick had been employed by Fun Bug, an online game/promotion company before it went bellyup, and he decided to take an Endless Summer surfing vacation in Australia and Indonesia.

For Nick it was either surfing or photography, it had to be one or the other. "I didn’t have a way to capture how much fun we were having. I didn’t want to have to be a camera guy or a surfer. I wanted to be both at the same time."

He needed a camera he could wear while enjoying his great love. "You can tell someone you’re a great surfer, but I wanted to show him," he said. 

The first camera was developed on that surfing vacation. It was wrist-mounted similar to a wristwatch. Yes, it needed improvement, but it worked.

Nick Woodman's dad, Dean and his Van

He realized that others might like this camera and decided to market it. His first step was to move back to his parents' home. Then, with colored beads he had brought back from Indonesia, plus his mom's sewing machine, he began turning out beaded straps—over 600 of them and sold them from his 1974 VW van.

He figured it would take at least two years to get the finances, but he did it in only four months. He launched his new company at an ARC trade show on September 15, 2004.

At the show, Nick made his first big sale of the original 35mm model to a Japanese distributor. "I was on cloud nine," Woodman said. "When you make something, actually create it, you're stoked," he told Transworld Business.

In 2005, his The Halfmoon Bay (Ca.) company started with two employees. This year he hired his 200th and planned to move to larger quarters in nearby San Mateo. His little camera had become the "Swiss Army knife of image capture."


In February 2012, Woodman's GoPro company was featured on the cover of Inc. magazine. After reading the article, Bloger Shmuel Hoffman pointed out five excellent reasons for the company's success:

1. Woodman defined his target by BEING his target audience...2. It's a very niche-y audience...3. He worked like a donkey to make it happen... 4. He made it a family affair...5. GoPro uses video and YouYube as the main event in their marketing.

The $300 GoPro has become the fastest-selling camera in the world. It is not only used by sports people, but TV adventure shows. And even filmmaker George Lucas used the camera in his new movie, Red Tails. Film footage shot with a GoPro has been seen in over 60 TV shows and used to film inside polar bears, alligators and sharks.

The company sold 800,000 cameras last year bringing in nearly 250 million dollars. Their marketing costs are minimal as the company gets most of its material from their customers who are uploading footage to YouTube and Facebook every two minutes.

The footage of a mountain biker knocked off his cycle by an African antelope*—caught by a GoPro— has been seen by over 14 million viewers.

A young man with an idea has gone from obscurity into the limelight. Nick Woodman is making money and having fun doing it.



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