Future 50 Company Profile

Last year's EDP Future50 celebrated entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies at a time when few people were talking about growth.

Some were classic restless entrepreneurs - the brains and driving force behind a number of businesses. Others had only just started their first company, but had high hopes for rapid growth.

Jason Borthwick - Deepdale Farms/Earthly Ideas

Jason Borthwick has made diversification a hallmark of his career. A business developer and marketer for the last 14 years, he has been using his imagination and vision to drive forward a varied selection of projects – from building back-packer hostels and running HIV/AIDS campaigns in Africa, to internal communications at Virgin Direct and diversification projects with the family business in north Norfolk.

Back-packers know all about Deepdale, the popular north Norfolk hostel and campsite he set up with his father Alister – which has been described in the Lonely Planet Travel Guide as one of the best of its kind – and has an annual £750,000 turnover.

This year, the family stepped back from direct involvement with the successful tourism venture to return to their farming roots. Now he juggles the continual development of the family business with an independent consultantcy giving diversification, environmental and marketing advice.

More recent projects have been environmentally friendly, a passion that has developed over the last 14 years and continues to drive the direction of his career. He says he likes to choose jobs and projects that engage his knowledge, drive and imagination.

But he is still on the look-out for new sites for weary back-packers to rest their heads.

“We have a huge number of ideas for Deepdale and would also like to expand further a field, for example opening hostels in places like Norwich and Cambridge and developing a back-packers network in Norfolk and the East of England with both our own hostels and other quality businesses,” Mr Borthwick explained.

“We built and ran the tourism side of the business, but now we’ve leased it out, reducing the business to farming and being a landlord. We kept the same number of staff, 12, and our other tenants at Dalegate Market, which includes Deepdale Café, Fat Face, Leftley’s Costcutter and other shops, employ more than 50 staff between them.

“Our direct staff are about four, and our tenants now employ more than 60 staff – not too bad for a village of just 40 permanent residents!”

Eastern Daily Press