Our founder, Finán O’Donoghue, gives a personal account of the influences and events that led him to set up Campsited.
The early years
I grew up in Kerry, in Southwest Ireland. I spent my youth enjoying the outdoors, hiking the hills and mountains there. I got this passion from my father.
I can pinpoint when it all began: I was 6 or 7 when I first camped with my father at the foot of Tomies mountain, near the Gap of Dunloe. A beautiful and tranquil place. Ever since that trip, the outdoors – and in particular family camping and caravanning holidays – have given me some of the most memorable times of my life. I am very grateful for them.
From an early age, I wanted to run my own business. In 1984, when I was nine years old, my father arrived home from a day trip to Dublin with a BBC Micro by Acorn Computers. The entire family gathered round, watching in amazement, as Dad showed us how it worked.
Shortly after that, my father started a business with that very BBC Micro. Initially he taught people how to use computers and, soon after, he began selling and fixing them. His business evolved over time to implement and maintain computer networks for businesses, schools and hotels. I saw how hard he worked. Despite the long days, he loved it. He was very proud of his business and found it very rewarding. I often thought: one day I’m going to do that. So the idea of running my own business wasn’t really a conscious decision, it was something I was always going to do.
The genesis of Campsited
Over the last ten years, I must have researched 10 different businesses. None of them really grabbed me until Campsited came along.
The idea for it came when my wife and I decided to book a family camping holiday.
We thought it would be a great way to introduce our own children to the outdoor life.
I went online expecting to find a choice of great websites to help us find and book the holiday. To my surprise, the experience was quite the opposite. It was fragmented and frustrating, and I found myself trawling through dozens of websites. None of them were really easy to use, or had a global view of campsites and holiday parks.
It was at the moment that two tracks running parallel for most of my life – my love of the outdoors, and passion for technology – collided.
I thought: if I can fix this problem for myself, maybe others would benefit from it too. Right then, I decided to create a really easy way for campers and holiday makers to find and book campsites around the world.
The first part of that dream became a reality when version one of Campsited launched, for campsite owners to list their businesses.
Since then, uptake has been great. Over 2,500 campsites have signed up across Europe and more are joining the movement every day. You can check them out and book them here.
Launch day was a massive personal milestone. Since then, my drive to make Campsited the easiest place for owners to promote their parks online, and the simplest way for campers and holiday makers to find and book them, has gone from strength to strength.
You see, I believe we’re solving a real problem for real people. And if we approach it by really engaging with and listening to both site owners and campers, we can solve it in a relevant and meaningful way. It will take time to get there, but that’s the challenge, and I’m totally up for it.
So here’s to the many adventures we will encounter along the way! Here’s to helping families and friends get closer (you can’t beat camping for that). And here’s to helping more people get more of what so many of us are lacking in our lives today: quality time in the open air.
All the best,