Finán O'Donoghue, the founder and CEO of Campsited, went online to book a family camping holiday but the experience was excruciating. He spent hours going through dozens of websites. None were really easy-to-use, had a global view of campsites (all the information about a campsite needed), or a comprehensive choice of bookable campsites around the world.
"When talking to others afterwards, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who had the same difficult experience", says O'Donoghue. "So I decided to do something about it, and got to work creating Campsited - the easiest way for anyone to find and book campsites around the world".
Finán O'Donoghue started his project partnering with local Ruby on Rails developers. "After our initial implementation I realised we needed to scale our development capability. Speed of execution was a top priority. In addition all of our regression testing was manual. We needed to get to a point where this was fully automated", he recalls.
He found Netguru through Google search. The strength of Netguru clients’ references convinced him to initiate a working relationship. Netguru started planning in October 2015, development began in December, and in March 2016 a new version of the Campsited was launched. "I was very impressed with the speed and quality of execution", says Finán O'Donoghue.
Finán O'Donoghue’s idea behind Campsited was to build an easy-to-use booking engine for parks and their customers. To make this happen it required a scalable and experienced development team. In the process, Finán had to deal with several substantial challenges:
- Scarcity of local tech talent in Dublin. Like many other technology and business centers in Europe, the Irish capital suffers from a substantial deficit of available talent. Experienced quality developers, especially with knowledge of the most wanted platforms (like Ruby on Rails) are usually working for big multinational companies.
- Developing a booking engine tailored for parks. Campsited needed to provide a better value for parks and campers, adding information valuable to the holiday seekers looking for places to commune with nature. The goal was to build a comprehensive catalogue of camping sites all around the world
- Attracting users with look and feel. Breathtaking images of landscapes and maps showing their unique assets and location are the key to attract tourist to parks. They needed to be presented in the most compelling way.
- Control of development costs is often an afterthought for early stage startups. Most startups need time to adjust their innovative product to the customer needs and it's almost impossible to meet those with the first version of the product. Marketing and promotion also need time to take full effect. That's why development costs need to be adjustable to the current project demand.
Netguru team started working on Campsited.com in October 2015. In March 2016 a new redesigned version of the application was released. Specific goals included:
- Engaging a remote Ruby on Rails team. Campsited was built by a team that consisted of a user interface designer working in Ireland, a visual designer working in Ukraine, and a team of front and back developers working in Netguru offices in Poland. This resolved the issue with the lack of available talent in Dublin.
- Creating a highly customizable platform. Each camping park has a unique allure that their owners want to emphasize. The Campsited platform was adjusted to allow advertisers to present a map-based view of the camping site with the information on the accommodation, nearby highlights, things to do, facilities, policies, etc.
- Redesigning the layout. The Campsited design implemented by Netguru underlines the beauty of the parks available through the application. The interface is simple and intuitive, providing all the information essential for holiday seekers.
- Adjusting the team size to the project needs. The advantage of working with a large software development company, like Netguru, allows startups to flexibly build a team to meet their immediate needs. Most of the time a startup needs only an essential team. For a project like Campsited, one developer is enough for maintenance and building basic features. However, when approaching a major release deadline the team can be easily expanded. In case of Campsited, the most intense development period involved up to five developers, a quality assurance specialist, and a PM working concurrently on the project.
Thanks to cooperation with Netguru, Finán O'Donoghue was able to build the product he envisioned.
- A successful relaunch allowed them to build on an existing user-base. Campsited has quickly incorporated over 1,300 registered campsites from Ireland and the UK alone.
- A stable and scalable dev team serves as a foundation to add new features. Campsited can be maintained by a single developer working part-time. However, when changes or new features are needed, Campsited has ready access to experienced Ruby on Rails developers who already know their product, business, and platform.
- Enhanced their ability to get more financing. Campsited has already attracted one significant round of investment. A successful relaunch increases the chances of getting the next one.
- Expanded their presence in new markets. With a new platform, Campsited started expanding to continental Europe, first in the Netherlands, which is a natural choice since the Dutch are known for their camping and caravaning culture.
It is often said that the best startups are born as solutions to real problems faced by the founders. In the case of Campsited, this formula worked beautifully. If you’re interested in other successful startups, check out our list of the top 10 most promising ones from London.