First Table, the booking platform designed to counter the age-old problem of slow starts to an evening, has been named the regional Rising Star – One to Watch as part of the Deloitte Fast 50 Awards in Dunedin.

First Table rewards diners making early-bird bookings with a 50 percent discount off the total food bill from member restaurants. It was founded by Queenstown man Mat Weir as a solution to the problem in the hospitality industry of slow starts to evenings. The platform has doubled in size year-on-year since launching.

“We are absolutely over-the-moon with this award,” Weir said. “This award is a recognition of the huge effort and extremely long hours put in by First Table across the world over the past four years. Inventing a totally new kind of business model from scratch is never easy, but the thousands of happy users and awards like this make it all worthwhile.”

Since it was founded by Weir in Queenstown in September 2014, First Table has grown throughout New Zealand and around the world.

“Much of our recent growth has come from expanding overseas,” Weir explained. “Our export earnings have gone from 18 percent last year to 30 percent this financial year, and we’re planning to continue our international expansion to reach 85 percent of all revenue coming from overseas markets in the next five years.”

First Table operates in 50 cities across New Zealand, Australia, the UK, Ireland, and Indonesia with more than 900 restaurants in the network. It plans to open operations in North America next.

The Rising Stars award is part of Deloitte’s international Fast 50 competition which celebrates innovation and entrepreneurship in high-growth companies. They are awarded to companies with the most growth potential.