Meet the Outdoor Entrepreneurs: Campsited

Meet the Outdoor Entrepreneurs: Campsited

Welcome back to another installment of ‘Meet the Outdoor Entrepreneurs”, the series where I get to know the people and the stories behind some brilliant outdoor businesses. Through this blog, I’ve come into contact with many inspiring people who have put their ideas into practice and created businesses that they believe in.  I was contacted by Finán in the early days of his company, Campsited, and I’ve followed his progress ever since. It’s a great story, and he has some fantastic advice for anyone thinking of taking the plunge.

With an interest in business, I love finding out the stories behind success stories.

Finán O’Donoghue grew up in Co. Kerry in South West Ireland. There he spent all of his childhood and youth exploring the outdoors and hiking the hills and mountains around   his hometown of Killarney. He had his first camping experience at the age of 6 or 7, when he camped with his Dad at the foot of Tomies mountain, near the beautiful Gap of Dunloe. Ever since that trip the outdoors, and family camping and caravanning holidays, have been a huge part of his life. So it’s no surprise that he’s turned his lifelong passion into a business, that he’s equally passionate about. That business is campsited.com. An easy way for people to find and book campsites.

Have you always loved the outdoors?
Very much so. From as far back as I can remember the outdoors has been part of my every day life. I grew up in Killarney, a town surrounded by great natural beauty and a rugged mountain range. The highest range in Ireland, called The Macgillycuddy Reeks. My father introduced me to the outdoor way of life at a very early age. I remember he took me up Tomies mountain at the age of 7 (I think). I was wearing a pair of his hobnail boots, with blue laces! They were miles too big for me. They cut the heels off me, but I was determined to do it, and I did. From that day to this I’ve had a life long passion for the the outdoors.

Where did you get the idea for your business from?
The idea for Campsited came when we went online to book a family camping holiday. My wife and I decided it would be a great way to introduce our own family to the outdoor way of life. I expected to find a number of easy to use websites, with a vast choice of campsites, to help us book our trip The experience however was not so. I spent hours trawling through many websites. None of them were really easy to use, or had a global view of campsites. Overall the experience was very fragmented and deeply frustrating. So much so, we didn’t book a camping trip that year. There and then I decided to do something about it, and got to work creating Campsited, to be the easiest way for people to find and book campsites around the world.

When existing websites weren’t up to scratch, Finán O’Donoghue made his own!

What is your proudest moment in business so far?
The day we launched was a very proud moment. I had spent so much time, in the evenings and at weekends, working round the clock, to get to that point. Looking back I suppose it was a sense of relief as well as being proud! There have been lots of other proud moments since then, but that one is a moment I will always remember vividly.

What has been your biggest challenge and how did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been finding a healthy work life balance. I have three young children, and I started Campsited when our second child was only four weeks old. Trying to balance family life, a full time job and Campsited in the evenings and weekends for nearly 2 years, was very tough going in the beginning. I am very grateful and lucky that I have a very supportive wife.

Is there anything you’d do differently if you started again?
There are tonnes of things I’d do differently! If I was to pick one thing however I’d look to develop partnerships with other companies in the industry earlier on. The power of a strong partnership can really help drive a business on.

Balancing family and work is always tricky, but the success of Campsited.com has shown that it can be worth it.

What’s your best tip for budding entrepreneurs
I would probably advise them to think about the following questions:
• Is the idea they have solving a problem for someone?
• Does solving the specific problem deliver value to their customer?
• Is the value in question something people are willing to pay for?
• Do enough people have the problem that it can allow the business to grow and sustain itself?
If the answer to these questions is yes, great. Then I would advise them to think about the following:
• Is their idea or business something they have an unwavering passion for?
• Are they prepared for the time and effort, and the highs and lows it will take to start and build the business?
I think these last two questions are really important, because there will be lots of times when you see less of your family. There will be periods of having no income (at all!!). Your social life takes a hammering. And there will be lots of sleepless nights wondering how you are going to pay the next round of invoices. If the person feels they are ready to tackle all of these things, and are OK with the associated stresses, then anything is possible!

Do you have any business heroes? Is there anyone who has helped you along the way?
There are lots of business people I admire. Two of them in particular are fellow Irish men, the Collison brothers, who founded Stripe, the payments platform. They have achieved great success, and it’s inspiring to see that. On a day to day basis I draw inspiration from the people closest to me. One of them sent a quote to me recently, when it was needed!

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Says it all really.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time
I see myself with Campsited. We’ve lots to do, and many goals to achieve in that timeframe. If I was to able to look back in five years time and say that we’d achieved our goals, in    a responsible and sustainable way, then Campsited will be a business I’m proud to be part of. I’d also like to be able to say that we helped create and sustain a healthy number of jobs.
Oh, and I see myself having found that work life balance!

What would be your one desert island luxury item?
Does my family count as a luxury item? Don’t think I could survive without them 🙂

If you would like to find out more, go to the website here, or you can follow Campsited on Twitter or Facebook .

If you would like to catch up, find earlier installments here:

Cornish Wave

Freeloader

Bundle Beds

PACMAT

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