Innovation Case Study - Go Pro
Nick Woodman, a Californian native and keen surfer, invented the GoPro after a surf trip to Australia in 2002. It is small and non-descript looking, deceptive really, however is a wearable camera and camcorder. Its size means it can be mounted almost anywhere with ease, whilst also having the capacity to shoot videos and stills in full HD. The GoPro was the first camera of its kind; small and virtually indestructible, and able to be mounted practically anywhere due to its size, portability and versatile mounts, such as the ability to be fixed to helmets, the body, various pieces of equipment or a specially designed hand-held pole. “Go pro makes it possible for people to have professional quality footage of their life, during their lifes most meaningful moments.” (Nick Woodman, GoPro Founder and CEO, 2012)
The GoPro first took off in the world of extreme sports; appealing to action and adventure lovers around the world, and has prospered due the dawn of YouTube and social media. Deep sea dives, daring ski jumps, or jumping out of planes are some of the many scenarios the GoPro’s devoted fan base have filmed and posted on YouTube, “capturing some of the most jaw dropping action shots ever recorded” (ABC), with its consumers commonly being known as an army of “bruised and uncaged stuntmen… trying to live up to the products name: Hero.” (ABC)
Design and Technological Activity/ Entrepreneurial Activity/ Intellectual Property
“The original goal for GoPro was to produce a camera that the average surfer could use to capture themselves and their friends while they’re surfing” (Nick Woodman – GoPro Founder and CEO, 2012). Woodman believed that an entrepreneur was more likely to succeed if they followed their passions when starting their own company. Through taking his own advice, Woodman ended up founding the company GoPro, and developing the GoPro Hero camera systems.
During a 5-month surfing trip through Australia and Indonesia in 2002, Woodman came up with the idea of creating a wearable wrist strap system that could secure a camera to a surfer’s body. All the available straps at the time were made from rubber, and were generally uncomfortable and awkward to wear, and most were easily broken too. Whilst in Indonesia, Woodman met Brad Schmidt, who is now the Creative Director of Media and Production at GoPro, and upon their return to America they spent the following two years creating, developing, and testing prototypes, until the first GoPro camera was released in 2004.
In the initial days of GoPro, Woodman would only hire people he was in college with, went to high school with, or was related to; he surrounded himself with people he loved, and people he knew he could trust. The company has now grown from the initial 7 people to 300 employees, however he has always said that those first 7 people were as productive as 40, and that because they always had so much fun “that it built a halo around the brand GoPro, where we are now a really fun, all-inviting, loving brand.” (Nick Woodman – GoPro Founder and CEO, 2012)
The growth of the company has almost fully been attributed to the dawn of YouTube and social media, as so many enthusiasts upload and tag their GoPro experiences on YouTube, as well as Facebook, with a video being posted every two and a half minutes – Woodman recently referring to GoPro as a ‘virally grown brand’.
Even though the GoPro started a technological revolution in the area of wearable cameras/camcorders and impossible angles, in the beginning Woodman wasn’t too concerned with the concept of intellectual property; most of the big companies had no idea it was even in development. In recent times however, none of the GoPro’s prototype testing is done in the US, for fears that prototypes will be stolen, so for the GoPro HD Hero 3, a research and development trip was taken to the coast of Nicaragua, where Woodman, Schmidt, and the other executives tested the...
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