Occupation?

Founder, CEO of GoPro

Age?

38

Where do you live now?

Woodside, Calif./Yellowstone Club, Mont.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you do instead?

Surfing and skiing my brains out with my family.

It’s been a hell of a ride for Nick Woodman. The surfer-turned-billionaire brought his idea for point-of-view video footage from his parents’ basement in San Mateo to the hands of loyal GoPro customers worldwide in two years.

“It’s like an athlete who absolutely loves playing the game,” said Woodman, who bought a Yellowstone Club house in fall 2012, and is known as the “mad billionaire” to fans because of his eccentricities. “[A committed entrepreneur will] put more of his or her heart and soul into it and outwork everybody else, because it’s just what they love to do.”

And Woodman loves what he’s doing.

Raised in California’s Bay Area, his concept for a retro video game website fell flat in 2001, and he lost investors nearly $4 million. Deflated and looking to take a step back, he spent three months surfing in Australia and Indonesia. He returned with an idea that revolutionized video footage.

Woodman has the work ethic of a draft horse, and the vision of an accomplished entrepreneur. He put in 18-hour workdays making prototypes in 2002, affixing straps to 35-millimeter cameras until he got the design he wanted.

The GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition shoots in high-def and is Wi-Fi enabled, waterproof and weighs just 73 grams. Woodman won a Technology and Engineering Emmy for the 2013 version.

And while he knew this work ethic was critical to his vision, GoPro’s success was never assured.

“As an entrepreneur, you’re a pioneer,” Woodman said. “You’re venturing out into the wilderness of your ideas. [But] when you’re dealing with subjects that you really care about, you generally have insights into those subjects that other people don’t. That gives you a natural competitive advantage.”

– Joseph T. O’Connor