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STARTUP

Stop Trying So Hard & Follow Your Passion
 

GoPro founder Nick Woodman says passion is the path to success. Trust him. He built a company that grew 300% in one year.

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A little passion goes a long way. Before you roll your eyes, entrepreneur Nick Woodman wants you to hear his story. 

Woodman, CEO and founder of action camera maker GoPro, took the stage Thursday at Inc. 500 | 5000 conference in Phoenix, Arizona, to talk about how it wasn't untill he discovered what he was truly passionate about that he became a successful entrepreneur.

"When I got out of college, I gave myself till I was 30 to invent a product," he said. "If I couldn't do it by then, I would just get a real job. And that fear--the fear of a real job--motivated me to be an entrepreneur."

Success didn't come overnight. Woodman's first company, an online marketing firm called funBug, got funding, but never got much traction. It went bust in 2001.

So at 26 years old, with four years left on his deadline and $30,000 in the bank, he packed up to travel the world.

Why? He figured his next gig needed to be something he actually cared about. He wanted to get back to two of his life-long passions: photography and surfing.

"I had to get out on the road to bump into inspiration and I knew passion would lead me there," he said. "But lucky for me, before I even left I had the idea for a wrist camera that I could wear to capture my surfing while I was traveling."

This was the beginning of GroPro. The company started selling wrist-cameras, which were meant for active consumers who want to capture their experiences (think: kayakers uploading self-documented rapid rides to YouTube). It wasn't long before he had another epiphany. 

"I was just passionately going forward with this idea when I tried to put a wrist-camera on a car," he said. "It was like a light went off. This doesn't have to be a wrist-camera company, we can be the biggest action camera company out there."

The point, he said he realized: good things come to those on a passionate path. 

"I want to want to go to work in the morning," he said. "Even at 300 people now, everyone is stoked to go to work every day. It sounds cheesy but if you are having fun, people will love your company, you will be more successful, and more ideas will come your way."

GroPro cameras, which come mountable or wearable, are now used to shoot just about anything, including reality TV shows to rescue operations (for example, one was used during the Chilean mining crisis.) The cameras are sold in 10,000 stores worldwide. And GoPro's 2011 revenue is estimated to be $250 million, and the company grew 300 percent between 2010 and 2011. Not shabby for a project based on passion.

 

 

Last updated: Oct 4, 2012

NICOLE CARTER is Inc.'s San Francisco bureau chief. She was previously an editor at New York Daily News, and her work has also appeared in Consumer Reports magazine.
@nicoleckinc




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