GoPro CEO Nick Woodman on going back to GoPro’s roots

GoPro’s faced some big financial woes the past few years, but the brand is looking to refocus its efforts. That’s according to GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman.

Woodman sat down in a new episode of The Verge’s “The Vergecast” to share his thoughts on GoPro’s future. In the interview, Woodman spoke about their struggles over the years and their recent attempt to refocus.

Focusing on what matters most

GoPro’s spent the last few years trimming down its product line. It also went through four periods of massive layoffs, essentially shutting down its drone division. But Woodman believes their downsizing is a good thing:

“Constraint is a beautiful thing. It forces you to focus on those programs where you think you’re going to get the best return on investment, and frankly, they’re the programs you think are going to be most exciting for your customers,” Woodman said.

It seems the refocusing paid off. The GoPro Hero 7 Black became the fastest selling GoPro camera ever when it was released last September.

Listening to everyday users

One of the biggest changes GoPro’s made is to conduct a lot more consumer research than in the past. Before, they looked to pro athletes and super-users for feedback regarding their products. Now they’re looking to everyday consumers.

“We were very fortunate that we were successful early on with GoPro, and our gut seemed to be right all the time. This worked for… call it 12 years,” Woodman said. “The negative to that is that you think you’re always going to be right. ‘Wow, we must be really smart and really creative and really good at this.’ And because you never needed to use customer research to be successful, you don’t know how important it is.”

Regaining focus

Woodman says, when GoPro started, the company didn’t experiment. It had a winning formula and believed that formula would stick. That formula propelled them to success. But when GoPro began to deviate from that original product lineup and prices, that’s when their troubles began.

“For the first 12 years of GroPro, we didn’t experiment very much. We had a winning formula and we just kept repeating that year over year over year, and we grew, and everything was terrific,” Woodman continued. “If you’re a historian of GoPro, you’ll see as soon as we started to experiment with the product lineup and with different price points, the springs started to come out. [It’s like,] ‘This is a beautiful watch. I want to take the face off and see how it works, and then, boom, the springs pop out. And we spent the last three years putting the springs back in.”

Since GoPro doesn’t have any real competition in the action camera department, it was easy for GoPro to lose focus. The company didn’t have any competitors to keep them on their path.

“When we went public, we tried to make GoPro as broadly relevant and appealing as possible, and tried to reach everybody, arguably at the expense of our best customers,” he said. “Not everybody in the world needs a GoPro. We recognize that [now].”

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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