World’s newest billionaire is a camera maker, not yet 40
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Meet the 36-year-old ‘surfer dude’ who is the world’s newest billionaire after selling percentage of his action sports camera business
• Nick Woodman sold 8.88 per cent of GoPro to Taiwanese manufacturing company for $200 million, making him worth at least $1.15 billion
• GoPro is a wearable camera used by athletes to capture action shots
• Came up with the idea while surfing around Indonesia and Australia
By Daily Mail Reporter PUBLISHED: 10:19 EST, 24 December 2012 | UPDATED: 11:05 EST, 24 December 2012
He may be a Californian surfer who throws around the word ‘dude’ and goes to work in a t-shirt – but Nicholas Woodman has not been taking it easy.
The 36-year-old is the mastermind behind GoPro – a wearable camera used by athletes to capture ski slopes or massive waves – and, as a result, the world’s newest billionaire.
Technology manufacturing company Foxconn bought 8.88 per cent of his company for $200 million last week. He is the majority owner so even if he owns the minimum of 51 per cent of the company, Woodman is worth at least $1.15 billion.
‘People use GoPros to capture the experiences they are passionate about,’ Woodman told Inc.
But his road to success has not come without its bumps and detours.
After he graduated from UC San Diego with a visual arts degree, Woodman shuddered at the idea of working for someone else and gave himself until he was 30 to become a successful entrepreneur.
IN ACTION: WOODMAN’S BILLION-DOLLAR IDEA, THE GoPRO
Nick Woodman is the founder and CEO of GoPro, a camera which can be fixed to helmets, the body, equipment or a hand-held pole.
They are used by professionals and hobbyists conquering 6ft waves, treacherous ski slopes, scrappy dirt track races and bungee jumps.
The cameras have also been used to film inside of the mouths of alligators, sharks and polar bears – and Woodman’s wife giving birth to one of their sons.
They are WiFi capable, typically come with remotes for control and have a capacity of 64GB currently.
They are also versatile thanks to numerous add-ons, including LCD screens, and the most expensive model is $400.
He started a marketing company called funBag in the early 2000s and raised outside capital, but it struggled to reach the potential he had predicted and the company died.
At age 26, he was back to square one. With the clock ticking, he decided to seek inspiration for a new company by spending time on his favourite hobby, surfing.
He toured Australia and Indonesia for five months and took a 35mm camera to strap to his wrist, intending to capture his best surfing tricks.
But the camera was awkward to work with, often falling off during the middle of a wave or hitting him in the face.
He started thinking about a strong, adjustable band that could secure a camera to a person’s body as they surfed, Business Insider reported.
To fund the project, Woodman and his now-wife Jill bought 600 sea shell belts from a market in Bali for $1.90 each.
On returning to the U.S., they drove along the California coast selling them for $60 each. With the money they raised and a $35,000 loan from his mother, Woodman created the first GoPro camera straps and developed the idea for two years.
“Things happen when you are pursuing your passion.” -Nick Woodman
While spending time on another hobby – race car driving – he realised he could mount his GoPro to capture the route – and that his new product ‘could be the world’s most versatile camera’.
In 2004, GoPro had its first big boost when a Japanese company ordered 100 cameras at sports tradeshow. The cameras now retail for around $300.
Woodman now maintains that you get your best ideas while spending time on the things you love.
‘Things happen when you are pursuing your passion,’ he said.
He also believes that his good team is key to his success, and at first he only hired people he knew from college, school or his travels.
He now employes more than 300 people and ‘we are now a really fun, all-inviting, loving brand’.
And he is always finding new inventive ways of using the cameras. Now a father of two boys, Duke and Hugo, Woodman used footage of Hugo’s birth at a conference in October.
VIDEO Nick Woodman reveals the passion behind GoPro…
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group