As kids, most of us are taught to follow our dreams. That if we do, we can do whatever we want in life. Though, this usually means something different to everyone. For some, it’s being a firefighter or a doctor. For others, it’s becoming a professional athlete or an actor. Regardless of the dream, those that witness success also witness failure along the journey.
This is especially true for GoPro Founder Nick Woodman. A northern California native, Woodman attended undergrad at UC San Diego, primarily to pursue his passion for surfing. After graduating with a degree in visual arts and creative writing, he founded an online gaming company called Funbug, which eventually lost nearly $4 million in funding. What could have been a sign that his parents had been wrong, he couldn’t do whatever he wanted, was instead a realization to connect with his dream: surfing.
It was during a recoup vacation in Australia, Woodman realized only surfers at a professional level could accurately capture the thrill of the sport. Unless you had serious, usually expensive, equipment, the waves were too far from shore to let any amateur take quality close ups without a telephoto lens and no one really wanted to be the one sitting out the ride. In an effort to make it easier for surfers to take their own action shots, Woodman began working on a prototype for a waterproof wrist camera.
Why is it called GoPro?
According to Forbes, he made his first model out of a surfboard leash, rubber bands, and a disposable Kodak. He named it after the thing most surfers dream of: going professional. In a reddit AMA, Woodman explained, “When trying to come up with an idea for the company name I asked myself, ‘What do my friends and I all want to do most?’ And the answer was ‘Go pro…we all want to be pro surfers.’ As I thought about it more I realized that GoPro was a great name in that it meant [to] ‘attack it full on’ no matter what your passion or interest is… get after it and live life to the fullest.”
Most of its users have taken his advice, making the assortment of handheld cameras easily found atop the helmets of snowboarders, at the end of travelers’ selfie sticks, or hugging bare chests at bachelor parties. The idea that you’re the star no matter what it is you’re doing is fully ingrained in the brand and its culture, and the Hero model name is yet another example. “’Be a HERO’ came out of the name of our first product, the HERO Camera,” Woodman told redditors. “The idea was that our camera could help you capture photos (and eventually video) that made you look like a HERO. Be a HERO similarly inspires you to do your best at whatever you do.”
Despite GoPro becoming a household name, and known for capturing stunts like the RedBull space jump, Woodman hasn’t let the success change who he is. In 2015, 13 years after launching, Bloomberg reported that the entrepreneur made good on a promise to his college roommate. Woodman gave Neil Dana, GoPro’s first employee, 10 percent of the sales he received from selling the company’s shares because of an agreement they’d made ten years earlier.
Known around town as the mad billionaire (for good reason), Woodman is still a believer in following your dreams. “I’m a big believer that when you’re pursuing your passions, your best ideas come to you,” he said. “Your passions are a bit like your fingerprints: Everybody has them; everybody’s are different. One’s passions may just be a guidebook to one’s life…”
Further proof that as long as you go for whatever it is you believe in, you can eventually GoPro.
Thanks for reading Why is GoPro called GoPro! Do you use a GoPro? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments! #whyisitcalledGoPro.
Annelise Schoups is a contributor at Rewind & Capture. With a degree in journalism, experience in public relations, and an education in travel, she is passionate about cultivating knowledge and storytelling.