UC San Diego alumnus Nick Woodman returned to campus Friday to tell students and alumni how his major in visual arts coupled with a passion for surfing unexpectedly led him to found the successful GoPro action-camera company.
Woodman, a 1997 graduate returning for Alumni Weekend, told a packed ballroom at the Price Center that he developed the idea for a wearable camera during a surfing trip to Australia, then drew on his UCSD visual arts training to develop the concept.
“The trip was really an R&D trip for me. It was the first trip I was excited to come home from,” Woodman said.
“The first camera was a camera I found — a found object. I made subtle tweaks and reintroduced it as something new.”
GoPro makes wearable, action cameras that can be used to record almost any sporting activity. The company encourages customers to share their videos, raising visibility for the company worldwide.
“We are enabling some of the world’s most active and passionate humans to capture their experiences,” he explained.
He urged students to take risks and follow their passions in their 20s, when they don’t have families and mortgages and can devote their full energy to a new idea.
The San Mateo-based company recently announced plans for an initial public offering after several years of strong growth. The company’s sales reached $986 million last year while profits hit $61 million.
He said that as he was entering the Price Center ballroom, a student asked him what it was like to be a billionaire.
“The truth is, that’s not what brings happiness. What brings me happiness is that I love what I do,” he said.
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