NI sports tech firm secures £500k to be ‘Airbnb of sports facility booking’

Craigavon trio secure funding to expand and grow their company Pitchbooking

By Claire Cartmill
Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 12:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th June 2022, 12:07 pm
Shea O’Hagan, Fearghal Campbell and Chris McCann, Pitchbooking
Shea O’Hagan, Fearghal Campbell and Chris McCann, Pitchbooking

A Northern Ireland sports tech firm has secured over £500,000 in new funding following a second round of investment.

Pitchbooking, located on Belfast’s Lisburn Road, is aiming to ‘let members of the public search, book and pay for facilities in under 60 seconds’ however needed further investment to grow and expand.

Shea O’Hagan, one of Pitchbooking’s co-founders, explained: “We’ve already got a lot of partners across the UK, but we want to grow the team to expand further. We need to hire more salespeople, additional developers and expand our customer success team. We hope to double the team size over the first year post investment.”

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The second funding round, led by Dominic Hughes and Tom Page of Vertex Albion Capital, a Silicon Valley-based investment firm, is backed by Cecil Hetherington (chair) and Anthony Kieran of Aurient Investment Ltd, Co-Fund NI, managed by Clarendon Fund Managers, Paul Demarco of Marco’s Leisure and World of Football in Edinburgh and professional footballer Taylor Moore.

Pitchbooking, the brainchild of Shea and friends Fearghal Campbell and Chris McCann, all aged 31, was born of frustration at how difficult it was just to book a football pitch.

To solve the problem, the entrepreneurial trio from Craigavon developed an online platform that enables instant, online booking, providing greater access to sports facilities for the public while streamlining the facility owner’s admin processes.

But far from being football-centric, they cater for over 25 different sports – even facilitating Quidditch and Ultimate Frisbee.

Fearghal said: “Our aim was to let members of the public search, book and pay for facilities – football, tennis, rugby, cricket – in under 60 seconds. We want it to become the Airbnb of sports facility booking.”

The company already has 15 council customers and works with hundreds of independent venues. It also runs programs for the Irish Football Association through a partnership with the FA and their event sponsors.

“In the last six months we’ve signed up more customers than in the previous three years; they’re starting to wake up to a modern approach to managing their facilities,” Shea continued.

“The IFA came to us saying they’d a problem with their events and the software they used for selling their kids camps, referees’ courses, etc. We launched Events booking as a second product in early 2022.”

Although the public are Pitchbooking’s end users, their main customers are sports facility managers who sign up on a subscription basis.

“Our customers range from the very big, 400+ facilities, to the very small, single community facilities that need a better way to operate their booking processes.” Chris added.

“We have two great products now - facility and event booking software. The idea is to use this funding to accelerate growth of these products and get them into the hands of more people.”

In addition to online booking, users can also access an analytics dashboard that allows them to see data on bookings, cancel and refund customers and set custom pricing and availability.