027: Idea from a sign in a French restaurant, sold his software dev business and coded the 1st version in 2014, aged 29. From 1 FTE to now 22 they have 1,400 restaurants using their unique product in 60 cities across 8 countries (Mat Weir)

Presented by Troy Trewin

Troy has worked intimately with 26 businesses in 20 years. He knows their numbers, understands their growing pains and people issues and has helped with most financial aspects, as well as having coached on leadership and management.

June 29, 2020

In this episode, I interview Mat Weir, a tech entrepreneur and the founder of international table booking service, First Table, the only company in the world focused on helping restaurants get their first customer for the night. Mat got the idea to start the company after seeing a sign in a local French restaurant in Queenstown, New Zealand. First Table charges the customer $10 per booking and the customer gets 50% off their food at the venue. After selling his software development company in 2014, aged 29, he built the website, opened with ten restaurants in Queenstown and is now in 60 cities across 8 countries and 1400 restaurants with a goal to hit 10,000. 

The company has grown from one full-time employee, himself, to now 22 based in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, UK, and the Philippines. They’re looking to expand their product into North America, and Europe soon. Funding has been from sweat equity and the growing profits from a very scalable business model. Mat says when building your board of directors or advisors, start with a great chair and build a board around them. He believes the hardest thing in growing a small business is, decision making fatigue (Making a lot of decisions on the fly as you go). The advice he would give himself on day one is, “Mate, you’re in for a shitload of work, but it will be worthwhile”. Stay tuned and enjoy.

This Cast Covers:

  • First Table: The only company in the world that specializes in getting people into restaurants at the beginning of the evening
  • How First Table helps restaurants get diners and create a great atmosphere.
  • The unique business model they use to make money from having 1400 restaurants in 8 countries on their platform.
  • Being a tech entrepreneur from a young age and thriving on several tech-oriented businesses.
  • Starting out 6 years ago as a solo founder with 6 restaurants signed up and growing to 1400 restaurants across 60 cities in 8 countries and 22 full-time employees.
  • Working hard to build their platform and having some of the best restaurants signing up.
  • Building a globally recognized brand that is the only one in the world doing what they do.
  • Bootstrapping from day one and funding the business solely from cash flow.
  • Launching in other countries in North America, the UK, and other markets.
  • The challenges of starting out in business and the worth that comes from forging on towards the core goal.
  • The importance of having persistence and a plan B just in case.
  • How being a developer has helped him grow the business.
  • The value of automation in ensuring effective processes and employee productivity.
  • The challenges of trying to scale up and make things more efficient on the platform.
  • Shifting from being just a developer and a one man band to learn sales.
  • The power of time management and optimizing your output to time.
  • Committing to bringing on business development experts and how it helped in achieving hiring successes.
  • The value of monitoring employee happiness and engagement levels in building a great culture.
  • Plans to launch in Manilla and how their local presence there will help in building out a sales and marketing team.
  • Consulting mentors who can give valuable business management and growth advice based on their years of experience.
  • Decision-making fatigue: The exhaustion that comes with making so many decisions every day as a small business owner.
  • The power of Facebook ads in growing a business.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes:

Success is about creating the opportunity for our entire team to have jobs and a purpose, and growing something that is globally recognized” – Mat Weir

“As the founder of a company, you’ve got to do everything, and no one knows how to do everything from day one, so you’ve got to lean on people who’ve done it before” – Mat Weir

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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