I started tweeting from @campsited on April 1st 2015. When talking to a friend a couple of days later she asked, “Why don’t you tell your story and how you got to this point? It’s interesting.”
Whether it’s interesting or not I guess is for you to decide, but having thought about it, I decided to do what Sophia recommended. So here’s my story.
The early years
My name is Finán O’Donoghue. I grew up in Kerry, Ireland, and spent all of my childhood and adolescence enjoying the outdoors, and hiking the hills and mountains there. A passion for which was instilled in me by 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 family camping and caravanning holidays, have given me some of the most memorable times of my life. I am very grateful for that.
From an early age I always 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.
In early 2015 the first part of that dream became a reality, when version one of Campsited launched to consumers.
Since then uptake there has been great, with over 700 parks having signed up across the UK and Ireland to date. And more joining the movement every day. You can check them out 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 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 constantly engaging with and really listening to both site owners and campers, we can solve it in a really relevant and meaningful way. Granted 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 encounter together along the way! Here's to helping families and friends reconnect and get closer (you can't beat camping for this!), and here's to helping more people get more of what many of us are lacking in our lives today, nature.
That’s it for the moment folks. I plan to write every now and then to share my experiences, good and bad. What would you like to hear about? Have any of you out there traveled a similar road starting a new business? I’d love to hear from you.
All the best,