Nicholas D. Woodman (born June 24, 1975) is an American businessman, and the founder and CEO of GoPro. Woodman is the son of Concepcion (née Socarras) and Dean Woodman. His father was born into a Quaker family and co-founded the investment bank Robertson Stephens; and his mother is of Hispanic descent and re-married Irwin Federman, General Partner of U.S. Venture Partners in 1992. Woodman grew up in Menlo Park, California and Atherton, California, attending the Menlo School, where he graduated in 1993. He earned a bachelor’s degree in visual arts and a minor in creative writing from the University of California, San Diego in 1997.
After school, Nicholas Woodman founded two startups, both of which never fully made it off the ground. The first was a website called EmpowerAll.com, which attempted to sell electronic goods for no more than a $2 markup, and the second was Funbug, a gaming and marketing platform that gave users the chance to win cash prizes. Woodman received a $235,000 investment from his father, an investment banker in Silicon Valley, and used his parents’ connections in venture capital to launch GoPro.
Nick Woodman Career
While in Australia and Indonesia on a surf trip, he used a 35mm camera attached to the palm of his hand by a rubber band to try to capture his surfing activities on film. Seeing that amateur photographers like him, who wanted to capture high quality action photos of their activities, had difficulties because either they could not get close enough to the action or were unable to purchase appropriate quality equipment at affordable prices, his trip became his inspiration to found GoPro. His solution was to develop a belt that would attach the camera to the body. To finance the business, Woodman borrowed $200,000 from his father, who still owned a 6.4% stake in May 2014. Nick also borrowed $35,000 and a sewing machine from his mother, which he used to sew camera straps while experimenting with early designs. Woodman and his future wife Jill generated an additional $10,000 by selling beads and shell necklaces they bought in Bali (for $1.90) out of their old Volkswagen bus along the California coast (for $60). His desire for a camera system that could capture close up footage inspired the GoPro name, as, at that time, the only surfers who were filmed were the professionals.
The first GoPro product was a 35mm film camera developed by a Chinese company named Hotax that incorporated Woodman’s custom wrist strap, slight modifications to the housing, and the GoPro logo. Hotax sold Woodman the rebranded camera for $3.05 and the cameras retailed for about $30. Woodman would go about selling his products while using his 1971 Volkswagen Bus that he named The Buscuit as his mobile home. The product has since evolved into a compact digital camera that supports WiFi, can be remotely controlled, has waterproof housing and records to a micro SD card.
In 2004, Woodman made his first big sale when a Japanese company ordered 100 cameras at a sports show. Thereafter, sales doubled every year, and in 2012, GoPro sold 2.3 million cameras. In 2005, Woodman appeared on QVC to sell his GoPro Hero. In 2004, GoPro had about $150,000 in revenue which grew to about $350,000 in 2005. In December 2012, the Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn purchased 8.88% of the company for $200 million which set the market value of the company at $2.25 billion making Woodman, who owned the majority of the stock, a billionaire On June 26, 2014, GoPro went public — closing the day at $31.34 a share. In 2014, Woodman was the highest paid US chief executive, paying himself $235 million while GoPro earned profits of $128 million.