38 min read

How GoPro grows through a product and SaaS subscription model

GoPro created a category and have dominated it from day 1. What's more interesting is how they've leveraged a physical product AND SaaS subscription to grow.
How GoPro grows through a product and SaaS subscription model

GoPro is one of the few brands that has both created a category and managed to stay at the top of their creation.

Countless other competitor brands within the "action camera" space have followed in their footsteps, and yet none have been able to overcome them.  

Is it because they're one of the few brands whose name has become interchangeable with the product.  

Or is it because they have an incredible marketing strategy that successfully mixes the revenue spikes of big-ticket sales with the ongoing revenue of a solid subscription offer?

If you run any sort of single product (physical or digital) sales process and want to bolster your income with a subscription offer, you need to read about GoPro's marketing.  

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What is GoPro

Key Takeaways: 10 second version

GoPro is an “Action Camera” company that has become synonymous with the name of the product they sell.     


→ Revenue has been steady at just over $1B for 4 of last 5 years, dropped to ~$900MM in 2020 (likely due to Pandemic).  

→ Revenue was higher pre-2016.  

→ They’ve raised a total of $288MM. 


Section Summary: (30 second version)

Company age: Founded in 2002 by Nick Woodman who was looking to solve his own problem. Initial prototype was a strap system rather than a camera. 


Growth: Their growth between 2012-2015 was huge. In 2012 to 2013 they added over $400MM to their revenue. Numbers dropped from $1.6B in 2015 to $1.1B in 2016 where it’s stayed until 2020. 


Acquisitions: Unlike many similar brands, GoPro hasn’t secured multiple funding rounds (they’ve had 2). They have acquired other businesses to help with growth though. These acquisitions have helped improve their service to customers. Much easier to acquire established offerings than build them yourself.  


What is GoPro?

GoPro terms itself as an “action camera” company. At its core, GoPro is a tech company. It produces small cameras that can be used in extreme conditions.

This has led to their products becoming a favourite with extreme sports enthusiasts who want a permanent record of their antics and adventures.

As the company has grown, GoPro has branched out from offering only cameras to also offer editing software and cloud video storage solutions.

When was GoPro Founded?

GoPro was founded in 2002 by Nick Woodman. Like many great businesses, GoPro started as a solution to the founder’s problem.

Nick wanted a camera that he could use to capture his surf days with his friends.

His initial solution was to strap a 35mm camera to his wrist with old wetsuits and plastic scraps (more on this later).

GoPro’s revenue

There’s an interesting change in GoPro’s revenue over the years.

I can only find files going back to 2012. But there’s an interesting trend.

Between 2012 and 2015 GoPro saw pretty incredible YoY growth. In those 4 years, they grew from $526MM to $1.62B.

However, they then tapered off and made around $1.1B for the following 4 years.

In 2020, revenue dropped to just below $900MM which isn’t surprising. I assume fewer people were taking international trips and so had fewer needs to upgrade their GoPro equipment or services.

Let’s take a look at what caused that massive leap in revenue over those 4 years.

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