GoPro founder got his start at UC San Diego - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

GoPro founder got his start at UC San Diego

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – GoPro -- it's a brand that's come to represent extreme excitement, capturing images that were never before possible. It's a company that sells hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of devices every year, and the man who started it all got his start at UC San Diego.

Nick Woodman isn't even 40, and he's already a billionaire. Youthful and energetic, Woodman fits in with coeds and selfies with a natural ease. If you didn't know better, you might think he's just a grad student having fun at UC San Diego.

"I can still see myself skateboarding down this path to go to Price Center to go to class. It's totally surreal," he said.

But this is actually a homecoming for the not-quite 40-year-old founder and CEO of revolutionary imaging company GoPro. Nick's company changed the way we look at the world, and its roots are intertwined with his alma mater's famous trees.

"It wasn't until I got here that I realized that I could be anything i wanted to be," Woodman said.

Back to share his story with students, Nick says the UC San Diego campus was the perfect incubator.

"This is actually where GoPro started, you could argue. It's where I learned about my love of visual arts and photography, love of surfing, and GoPro is really the combination of my passions in the form of a business. I got very lucky as an entrepreneur that I could combine my personal passion with business. So I owe UC San Diego a ton for helping find who I really am," Woodman said.

GoPro launched in 2004 as a wrist camera for surfers but has evolved into video with perfect timing.

"Before YouTube, nobody cared about video quality, and so our product overnight, thanks to YouTube, went from being so-so to being outstanding," Woodman said.

GoPro is the viral video, you could argue, with extreme views produced by the palm-sized camera's flooding the internet. But GoPro cameras have influenced much more. CBS News 8 uses them extensively to give viewers never-seen-before perspectives, from sheriff's deputies going off-road to horses going down the stretch, to just about anything you can imagine.

And UC San Diego's visual arts program, started Woodman on his extraordinary path.

"It was to be creative with a purpose and get your message or belief across through creative work in a manner that really engages your audience. So they come away believing in the message you were delivering to them," Woodman said.

To be sure, Nick's wired a little differently, and his passion for perfection and dogged determination set him apart. But that doesn't mean he thinks he's special.

"To everyone home watching, I am not that smart. I am just that dedicated," he said. "You have to be a little maniacal to see things through. You don't need massive intellect, you just need massive perseverance," he said.

Woodman's time at UC San Diego almost didn't happen. He was turned down by the school at first, but showing that determination early, he followed up his rejection with a letter of appeal and was accepted.

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