Treat NZ is a web-based platform that gives local eateries a digital boost across web, email and social media whilst offering Kiwis a one stop shop for deals, events and specials to make dining out more accessible. Treat NZ founder, Fleur Wolstenholme, recently completed AMP IT UP – a workshop-based business fundamentals programme created by Soda and funded by Amplify Taupō for Taupō based business owners and entrepreneurs. The 8-week programme culminated in a pitch night where 15 business owners shared their business pitch to win cash. Fleur was awarded first place, taking home $3,500 to boost her startup.

How did you come up with the idea for Treat NZ?

In 2020 I was in my third year of Uni, and it was my boyfriend’s birthday. I wanted to ‘treat’ him out for dinner but dinner for two isn’t exactly in a student’s budget! As it was a weekday, I hoped somewhere might have a happy hour or burger & beer deal, but I found it really difficult to find deals via social media and online for local eateries. We ended up getting takeout and it really annoyed me because I was prepared to go out and spend money but nowhere enticed me in! After this experience I spent a few months talking to business owners and diners to see what the issues were and began to come up with the initial version of Treat NZ. We launched in early 2021 with three eateries in Taupō.

What work experience do you have that led to the creation of Treat NZ?

I work fulltime as a project manager at an ecommerce digital agency in Auckland and prior to that I was a front-end web developer, which is where my experience and understanding of the digital world comes from! I grew up surrounded by hospitality with my Dad working in business development for pubs and bars, and I became a bar manager in Taupō. This is where my passion for hospitality comes from. Treat NZ brings these two things together, which is awesome as I love them equally!

What does a typical day or week look like for you?

I like to keep busy! Weekdays are mainly gym, work then I work on Treat NZ. Weekends are where I’m able to spend more time focusing on Treat NZ to get the chunkier bits done. Living in Taupō we’re lucky to have a lot of amazing local eateries, so when I’m not working - I do practice what I preach and love to support local and catch up with friends over a coffee or wine (depending on the time!).

What is your favourite part of being a business owner?

Running a one-man-band (or rather, woman!) startup, I love the variety of things you have to do. I’ve always been someone who loves learning, so it’s great to be able to upskill in a variety of things like financial/accounting skills, social media marketing, PR and sales skills through Treat NZ.

What’s a business highlight you’re most proud of?

Winning Amp It Up would be up there - as I’m still at a very early stage and Treat NZ is quite a big idea. I’ve had my fair share of people telling me it won’t work, that it’s a bad idea or that I’ve bitten more than I can chew. Winning Amp It Up has been a real confidence boost in people seeing what I’m seeing and believing in me as an entrepreneur!

It’s super rewarding getting feedback from the restaurants we work with. For example, Andrew from Hare & Copper Eatery said, “Treat NZ not only gives the general public some fantastic dining opportunities, but they give a huge social media push for the businesses involved too. 110% recommend Treat.NZ.” It validates that we’re on the right track to achieving our goal to bridge the gap between hospitality and the digital world.

What’s one of your biggest business challenges and how did you overcome this?

A big challenge is being able to connect with restaurants. Apart from the local ones here in Taupō, I don’t get the opportunity to pop in as much as I’d like to. Hospitality relies on face-to-face interaction so being able to be everywhere at once and try and translate that passion through email, video and phone calls has been a challenge for me.

Another challenge has been time and funding! Through strict time management and simple but good operational systems (a lot learnt in Amp it Up), I’ve been able to budget both my time and money to make it go as far as possible.

What was your favourite part of the AMP IT UP programme?

Every week has brought value to my business and I’m looking forwards to putting it all into action! I think one of the most valuable things has been connecting to and meeting other entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Taupō community! Already I’ve collaborated with one of the other business owners, Jane Smith Florals in a Mother’s Day floral workshop in a cafe on Treat NZ, and I hope to set up some more collabs over the next few weeks. The group has been so welcoming and created a safe space for sharing wins, challenges and asking questions. As a solo founder, it’s been great to be able to talk to other people at the same stage as me!

How has AMP IT UP been beneficial to your business?

The workshops have been awesome in so many ways! From learning from the guest speakers to the expertise and anecdotes from Paul and Kat and learning from the other cohort members, each week has improved and motivated me to create a better business! Already Amp It Up has impacted Treat NZ in numerous ways, such as our pricing structure, accounting and financial.

What will you use your winnings for?

As it’s been bootstrapping from here, I’ve relied on organic growth and word of mouth to grow brand awareness. The prize money will go towards a larger scale marketing campaign. I’m hoping to partner with some businesses who have a similar target market to Treat NZ, for example, food subscription services or dating sites, to help make date nights affordable!

Where do you see Treat NZ in five years’ time?

Over the next five years, I aim to grow the Treat NZ's subscriber base exponentially to have 25,600 subscribers. To reach this point, we will grow the NZ audience and subsequently launch in other markets like the US, Australia and the UK.

Once we reach a point of needing to create a new booking platform, I aim to seek investment to work with a booking provider like Res Diary to build a booking system that can integrate with the restaurants.

Within five years, I hope Treat NZ will be the ‘go-to’ directory for foodie things going on in local establishments. Hopefully it will be a household name and as common as a Netflix subscription, that is used regularly by foodies across the country. As a result, the rate at which people dine out will increase, and we’ll see a more vibrant, lively atmosphere in our culinary scene.

Check out Treat NZ.

Find out more about Soda's Business Fundamentals programme.