Fishook gathers local events so users can get caught in the action

30 Sep 2019

Fishook co-founder Paddy Pio O'Rourke. Image: Fishook

Our Start-up of the Week is Fishook, an event and experience discovery app for finding unique things to do around Dublin.

Fishook CEO and co-founder Paddy Pio O’Rourke describes his start-up as “basically Tinder for events”.

“Businesses and event promoters can create an account through our website and post their events. The app users can then discover these events in a format similar to Tinder,” he told

While this platform focuses solely on Dublin at the moment, O’Rourke has plans to bring Fishook to the rest of the island eventually.

The team

O’Rourke, perhaps surprisingly given the nature of his start-up, is a physiotherapist by trade and runs a practice in Dublin. However, when you consider the people skills that this career requires, his focus on an events app begins to make a little bit more sense.

Before founding Fishook, O’Rourke also did a lot of travelling, working in the UK, Canada and Asia, and before that he started the first soccer team in his hometown. “I’ve always been passionate about the idea of motivating people to engage and get active,” he explained.

‘I realised a lot of people have difficulty keeping up to date with what’s happening in Dublin, so we saw the necessity for an app’

Fishook was also co-founded by Mary Brennan, who is a digital product designer with extensive experience in web and app design. “She will play a critical role in working with developers to create the most cost effective and fit for purpose product, while maintaining the integrity of the design,” O’Rourke added.


O’Rourke said the idea for the start-up was conceived in a WhatsApp group.

While taking part in ‘Dry November’ with a group of pals, O’Rourke began to create PDFs of events that he and his friends could check out at the weekends. These PDFs listed the times of events, prices and other details about each activity.

“These PDFs were sent around to others, who loved it and wanted to be part of the WhatsApp group. It just took off from there. We soon had eight different WhatsApp groups where we would send PDFs of everything to do in Dublin each week,” he explained.

While doing this, he realised how fragmented this information was. After a bit of research, he also saw how the world has shifted into an “experience economy”, where the majority of millennials would rather spend their money on travel, festivals, gigs and unique nights out, than on material possessions.

“There’s loads of stuff to do, but it’s so hard to find out what’s on,” O’Rourke added. “I realised a lot of people have difficulty keeping up to date with what’s happening in Dublin, so we saw the necessity for an app.”

The tech

From the moment Fishook was conceived, O’Rourke believed that the best way to keep the app scalable and ensure its success would be to give businesses full control over their own content.

Naturally, there are considerable risks that come with this approach. That’s where the idea of a Tinder-style app comes in, with users swiping through content and deciding if they’re interested or not.

“I remembered using Yik Yak in college, where posts within the app were automatically deleted if they received too many downvotes.

“That’s why we built in the ‘swipe down’ function. Because Fishook is an open platform, we are a bit vulnerable to poor content, so to make sure everything is kept interesting, users can swipe down on poor content. Some people may see this as a weakness, but we see it as a strength within the design.”


Fishook was launched in July, with the intention of testing the app out among a small group of people.

“Word spread quite quickly and we ended up with 5,000 downloads within the first three weeks. We were happy with the growth, but at the same time we panicked a little because we knew we still had a few small issues to iron out,” O’Rourke said.

The start-up managed to tackle these issues without much trouble. Since then, the app’s growth has been consistent and O’Rourke and Brennan have received plenty of positive feedback.

Future scope

The Fishook team has global ambitions and O’Rourke believes that the start-up can thrive in not just cities, but in small communities around the world.

“We need to give people lots of reasons to continue living in the countryside, and we need to give tourists reasons to come and visit and to boost the economy,” he said.

He added that an app like Fishook can provide rural entrepreneurs, who want to offer experience-based activities to customers, confidence that their business will get traction.

“I think the negative effects of social media are becoming more and more apparent, and people are starting to come away from those platforms and turning to more functional apps where they can log in, find what they’re looking for straight away and then jump back out.”

The company has yet to receive any external investment, but Fishook plans to go through a seed round within the next six months.

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Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic