Creating Wealth; A by-product of Invention
GoPro Cameras- Necessity is always the mother of invention! And invention is still one of the best ways to create wealth fast.
MJ Demarco states in his mega hit book “Millionaire Fastlane”, if you want to be successful stop chasing money and start chasing needs. Find a very large unmet need in the marketplace and build a product or business to fill that need. Meet the needs of enough people and you will not have to worry about your income.
The story of GoPro Cameras is an incredible example of filling an unmet need in the marketplace. In this case the unmet need was the founders own need and desire to obtain near professional quality photographs of him and his buddies surfing on the Australian coast. Today GoPro Cameras and Woodman Labs, founded by Nick Woodman, are worth an estimated $2.25 billion dollars. This after a recent investment by Foxconn of $200 million shot the value of the company skyward. With a majority stake in the company, this makes the 37 year old Nick Woodman of San Mateo California one of the world’s newest billionaires.
UPDATE March 2016- GoPro stock trading under the symbol (GPRO) has decreased dramatically in value from a one time high of $98.00 in 2014 to a price in March of 2016 of $13.88. Check out this article on Nick Woodman's current net worth for a more detailed account.
Nick Woodman before GoPRo- Failure is part of Success
Described by his teachers as an extremely confident boy in high school Nick always had a smile on his face and always seemed to be having a good time. The youngest of four children, he grew up in Silicon Valley and was no stranger to success. Nick’s father was a very successful investment banker who in the 1970s brokered Pepsi’s purchase of the Taco Bell chain. But Nick’s success was in no way handed to him as you will see.
After high school Nick attended UCSD in San Diego (La Jolla Ca.) where he studied visual arts. Being an avid surfer, he chose UCSD because of its proximity to the ocean and abundant sunshine. After school Nick set about launching his first business endeavor, a start-up online gaming service. He was even able to raise almost $4 million in investor funding to launch and grow the business, but then the Dot-Com bust hit. Nick Woodman’s first attempt at launching a successful business would end in failure.
This came as sort of a wake up call for Nick. It was the first time in his life that he had truly failed at something, at least as far as he could remember.
How to get rich - Identify a Need And Fill It
Nick contemplated the idea of having to get a job and work for the next 30 years, eking out a middle income lifestyle. It was not an idea he relished as the entrepreneurial gene was already in his DNA. With the idea of a job in the back of his mind Nick planned one last hoorah. A surf odyssey that would take him, his girlfriend Jill (now his wife) and a couple of close friends up and down the coast of Australia and on to Indonesia where they surf Bali, Sumatra, West Java, and the Mentawai Islands.
Nick had toyed with the idea of a wearable camera in the late 1990s, but it was not until the Australian surf trip that he began to really focus on it. It came about through the frustration that he and his buddies experienced because they were not able to capture professional, close up, shots of themselves in action out on the water. They tried various approaches such as shooting from the beach, or using the disposable underwater cameras that came with a big rubber band to a secure the camera to your wrist. Neither option produced the results they were looking for.
It sort of became a mantra throughout the trip; The only way to get good photos of yourself surfing is if you “Go Pro” (become a professional surfer) then you would have the benefit of professional photographers in the water catching you in action. Nick Woodman had just identified a need in the marketplace. But even he had no way of knowing it was a billion dollar need, or that he would develop a billion dollar product and company to meet that need.
Continue to surf like a Hero- But Nurture The Wealth Creation Seeds
By the time Nick and his small troop reached Indonesia on their surfing trek the GoPro seeds were firmly planted in his mind. In fact he began to set his plans in motion before he ever returned to the U.S. One day in Bali his girlfriend Jill returned from a shopping trip with what Nick describes as an “insanely cool” belt made from beads and shells.
Nick just figured out where he would raise his first seed money for his business. He tracked down the make of the belt and placed an order for 600 more. A few weeks later he was back in California with his VW van as a rolling, surf-sidebelt store. By the end of the summer virtually all of the belts were gone and he had the chunk of investment dollars needed to get started. He moved back into his parents’ home and set to work developing his new product.
GoPro Product Development- The First Prototype
In developing his first product Nick knew he had to basically solve three problems or issues. He needed a camera that could take the pounding of the surf, he needed a waterproof case, and he needed a better strap or a better way to carry the camera.
It was not uncommon for Nick to spend 18 hours a day locked in a room designing and building his first prototype. The very first strap was fashioned from a broken surf board leash. Eventually Nick settled on a simple 35mm camera that was made in China and fitted it to one of his waterproof cases. He now had a working prototype to present to a manufacturer. Nick spent $5,000 having the first few cameras manufactured. He then hit the trade shows.
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In September of 2004 Nick Woodman attended his first trade show in San Diego with his new GoPro cameras in hand. A full two years of product development has passed. But Nick was ahead of schedule. He had made a promise to himself that he would dedicate four years to building a profitable company. If he did not succeed in four years he would quit and find a job.
Nick’s cameras were a hit. A Japanese company bought all of the cameras he brought to the show, and placed a large order. Word of the cameras began to spread through the extreme sports community and more orders rolled in. GoPro has been profitable ever since according to Nick Woodman.
From Start Up to Million Dollar Company
Now fast forward to 2012. During the year 2012 GoPro sold 2.3 million cameras and grossed $521 million in sales in one year. The company followed that up with $100 million in gross sales during January of 2013. Today they are the world leader in wearable and gear mountable cameras, producing High Definition 1080p cinema quality video cameras worn by literally millions of people across the globe. Today, the San Mateo based GoPro is the fastest growing digital imaging company in the world.
Ways to make money- talking points
In some ways Nick Woodman did not really invent a product as much as he invented an idea. Cameras already existed, video cameras already existed, and certainly wrist straps existed. Nick discovered that an entire area of photography and video was not being served by the current products on the market. Nick simply took existing technology, improved upon it in areas others had not addressed, and grew it into a $ Billion company.
I talk about inventing as a “fast way to make money.” It is not fast in the sense that you will become a millionaire in a few months, but when you compare Nick Woodman’s wealth today, with someone who simply works a job for 30 to 40 years, then it becomes apparent that Nick’s method was indeed lighting fast. Less than ten years to be worth about a billion dollars, or 35 years to get two pay checks a month and if you are lucky a mediocre retirement.
Find a need and fill it regardless of the industry it is in
In the early 1970s Phil Robertson believed he could build a better duck call. He patented the first Duck Commander around 1973 and set in motion the business that would one day lead to the smashing success of A & E Network's Duck Dynasty series.