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Getting to know: Brent Dillie from startup Tablee
Getting to know

Getting to know: Brent Dillie from startup Tablee

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Title: co-founder and chief commercial officer at Tablee, a Richmond-based hospitality technology company that makes a device designed to make service in restaurants, hotels and other hospitality environments more efficient. Tablee placed second in the 2019 Start Me Up Innovation Awards contest in Milan, Italy, in October for its Tablee Tap device.

Born: November 1984 in Pittsburgh

Education: bachelor of science in chemical engineering, Virginia Tech, 2008

Career: process engineer, product performance engineer, site ISO quality manager for Celanese, 2008-12; R&D engineer, business unit director for Essentra, 2012-19; co-founder of Tablee, April 2019-present

Where in the metro area do you live: Museum District

Best business decision: “A two-way tie: 1. Leaving true engineering (math, calculations, etc.) to move into sales and business management. This led me to meet my co-founder, Wendy, while we were working together at Essentra. 2. Starting Tablee and quitting my job to pursue Tablee full time. I’ve never worked so hard in my life and had more fun at the same time.”

Worst business decision: “Not following my passion soon enough. Working for publicly traded companies gave me an incredible amount of experience when I was young, taught me business and operational fundamentals which I still rely on today. Also, tons of awesome colleagues I’ve worked with over the years. But the negative with many public companies is that time and time again, great long-term investments and ideas lose out to chasing quarterly and annual profits for Wall Street.”

Mistake you learned the most from: “Acting too quickly. My first instinct in a problem is to act. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to slow down a bit first before making the move. I still love making the move though. I guess my grandpa was right when he always said to measure twice and cut once. I cut first a lot when I was younger; I still do from time to time, as my wife can attest to.”

First job after college: “Process engineer at Celanese in Narrows. Hard hat, fire-retardant suit, steel-toed boots, the works. I learned an incredible amount about how to operate a plant and what goes into it. I worked with an unbelievable group of men and women operators out there, incredibly hard workers.”

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently: ”I would have dived headfirst into being an entrepreneur at a younger age. I did start my own lawn-mowing business one summer as a kid, so I guess it’s always been in me. I’m jealous of these kids at VCU and UR already working on their businesses. I’m a decade behind!”

Book/movie that inspired you the most: “The Tipping Point” by Malcolm Gladwell. “If you haven’t read it, stop what you’re doing and read it. He’s fantastic. Also check out his podcast ‘Revisionist History.’ It’s a fascinating look at how and why products, fads and other things in society and culture explode and go viral. We’re using some of his concepts and ideas today with Tablee.”

Favorite/least favorite subject in school: “Math was the favorite. Grammar was the worst. By far. I still have no idea where to put commas.”

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