Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve seen the rise and rise of the GoPro camera. They’ve recently filed for a confidential IPO in the USA, and their most recent funding round had the company valued at $2.3 billion. I’m sure you know how awesome the cameras are at capturing extreme HD footage in extreme conditions. What most people don’t know is how they got to where they are today, and how they bootstrapped their way to invent an entire submarket with sub par, behind the curve, nowhere near leading edge technology.
Let’s start with why Go Pro cameras exist in the first instance. To do this one thing:
To make cameras which could capture footage of people doing extreme activities without breaking.
But it even goes deeper than that. The founder Nick Woodman originally didn’t have the intention to even make cameras. He simply wanted a solution to ‘his’ problem – which was finding a way to capture footage of his own surfing. He thought he’d be able to do this by simply creating a wrist strap which could be used with existing cameras. But once he got deeper into the funnel of development, he realized that there really wasn’t a reasonably priced camera which could take the extreme pounding and capture the images. So he went out and developed his own.
The first iteration of the GoPro camera was in real terms a mile behind the technological development of cameras at the time. In fact the first version of the camera Nick launched wasn’t even digital – it took Kodak 35m film and this was in 2005! Yes you read that correctly – film. Can you imagine the pitch to investors in Silicon Valley about the film camera he was launching – he would have been laughed out of every VC office on Sand Hill road.
Here’s some other things the first few iterations of GoPro didn’t have – at a time when we were deep into the digital camera and smart phone era:
In fact, the list of what GoPro cameras didn’t do was extremely long. But what it could do, was what no other camera could. And that is get the footage, survive extreme conditions and be mounted and affixed to capture the crazy activities people get up to.
Yet, GoPro has continued to iterate their technology and are bridging the capability gap – all the while maintaining the purity of their purpose.
There are some massive insights here for anyone wanting to startup up in the hardware space. Clear things which bootstrapping entrepreneurs can take heed from. So I’ve listed some of the key lessons from the Nick Woodman playbook below to get you all psyched up to go make that ‘piece of hardware’ you want – and the world probably does too:
The GoPro story is both revealing and inspiring. More proof that we can do bootstrap into almost any category – even high tech hardware.