We gave First Table founder Mat Weir a little longer than an elevator ride to pitch online takeaway directory FirstEATS.
Following the start-up of his highly popular platform First Table, a site where the first customers to book at a restaurant get 50 percent off their meal, Mat Weir decided to create FirstEATS, a marketplace to discover all eateries that offer takeaway.
As Covid-19 has put the hospitality industry in a vulnerable position, Weir saw an opportunity to help businesses get direct takeaway orders while avoiding high commissions.
“Many restaurant owners have been scrambling to launch takeaways, but with various delivery and ordering platforms operating across New Zealand, consumers are confused about where to search for takeout,” says Weir.
“FirstEATS is the first place to find out about a restaurant’s takeaway option and is free for restaurants to list their menu.”
Weir created FirstEATS with the same purpose that sparked the launch of First Table, a win-win situation for all involved. Restaurants can promote themselves for free, food lovers can support local by ordering a takeaway through the site, and the FirstEATS team can play an important role in rebuilding the industry.
Within the hospitality industry, many eateries don’t have the ability to get a takeaway service to market, which results in listing on high commission platforms. This has been seen through food delivery services like Uber Eats which have recently been charging crippling commission rates for New Zealand hospitality businesses.
“When restaurants are back to “normal” post Covid-19, many kitchens will have slow production periods, especially early and later in the evening, therefore they need volume to keep busy.
“We have observed that the relationship between people, food and technology is continuously evolving. Our vision is to be at the forefront by always innovating and elevating dining experiences around the world.”
The idea behind FistEATS stemmed from the teams common love for the hospitality industry and the ‘support local’ mindset. As his original business First Table was unable to operate during alert levels three and four, Weir says it was a no brainer to work on a new idea that would help businesses in alert levels one, two and three.
“We had an audience looking for dining inspiration, we had our partner restaurants looking for solutions to survive and thrive in a post Covid world and our team had time due to our First Table operations being “on hold” in Levels 3 and 4.
“Our team wanted to utilise our existing resources, a team of web developers, sales, marketing, management and customer support professionals, and give back to our beloved hospitality industry during Covid-19.”
First Table has one of the largest and most engaged foodie audiences in New Zealand, however since lockdown, the site has made zero revenue. The challenge for Weir was to ‘pivot’ from his day to day business and create a new platform with the current resources at hand.
Like any new start up, FirstEATS is at a growth stage, looking to widen their reach, gain more users and support more local businesses. Weir says the primary focus is to continue adding new venues so there are plenty of takeaway options for customers to choose from.
“Over 350 venues are listing their takeaway options on FirstEATS around the country with more venues being added daily.
“Takeaway is always going to remain relevant so we’ll continue to make the search for takeaway food as simple as possible while helping business owners promote their preferred channels.”
Weir says takeaways are the new way of doing business for a lot of restaurants, however the existing model with its high commissions, doesn’t fit with what they are aiming to do.
Looking forward, FirstEATS will continue to develop new features to improve the user experience and will encourage restaurant partners to use sustainable takeaway packaging.