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Origins of Top Businesses: How a Surf Trip to Australia and Indonesia Led to GoPro

This section of our site is called “Origins Of Top Businesses”.

It features interesting facts about the early years of well-known businesses.

These facts are given to you for fun and inspiration.

Fun because the way that many top businesses started out is really surprising.

Inspiring because it will help you as a business owner see that if they can do it, so can you.

His dad and step-dad were both successful investment bankers, but he decided to take a completely different career path.

Who am I talking about? Nicholas Woodman, founder of GoPro.

Now for today’s facts:

how gopro got started

  • In high school, he wasn’t much of a student. He basically just maintained a B average.  
  • Instead of studying, he focused mainly on the thing he loved: surfing.
  • He went on to form Menlo High School’s first surf club.
  • The first time he failed in a major way was in April 2001. By that point he was two years into developing Funbug, a gaming company which gave teenagers the chance to win cash prizes. It was during the dot-com crash and he was struggling to keep him company alive. He had received $3.9 million in investor money, but it was no use. The company failed.  
  • After this failure, the then 26-year- old Woodman decided to go on a five-month surfing trip to Australia and Indonesia. It would be on this trip that he would come up with an idea that would change his life forever.
  • While on the trip, he used a 35mm camera that he attached to the palm of his hand with a rubber band so he could capture his surfing activities on film.
  • He saw other guys trying to capture action photos of themselves and that gave him the idea for a camera that could do this.
  • He first idea was to develop a belt that would attach a camera to the body. He contacted an overseas company and asked if they would alter their design and let him sell it.
  • Later he and his future wife Jill financed the business by selling shell necklaces they bought in Bali for $1.90 for $60.  They would sell these from their car all up and down the California coast.
  • He took the money they made and, combined with $35,000 he borrowed from his mom and another $200,000 that he borrowed from his dad, he started GoPro.
  • What he didn’t want to do was borrow money from any investors like he did before. He told the Wall Street Journal: “Losing other people’s money was terrible. I was the guy who went around and convinced people to put their money in. They believed in us and in me and I didn’t come through. That’s why I started GoPro by bootstrapping it.”
  • The failure with Funbug is the thing that made him work extremely hard in order to make GoPro succeed. He told Forbes: “That’s what the first boom and bust did for me. I was so scared that I would fail again that I was totally committed to succeed.”
  • And how well has it all paid off for him? His net worth is currently $2.6 Billion.

Check out this video to hear his story in his own words…

Source:,, and

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About Scott Aughtmon (1872 Articles)
I’m author of the book 51 Content Marketing Hacks. I am also a regular contributor to and I am the person behind the popular infographic 21 Types of Content We Crave. I’m a business strategist, consultant, content creation specialist, and speaker. I’ve been studying effective marketing and business methods (both online and offline) since 1999. ===> If you would like to see ways that we could work together, then please click here to learn more.