From Cincinnati to Silicon Valley, DotLoop CEO explains his move


Baby, if you ever wondered, wondered if your company should make the move to Silicon Valley, then check out this video with DotLoop founder and CEO, Austin Allison.

DotLoop, a startup that wants to simplify all of the complicated paperwork associated with large transactions like buying a house, was founded in Cincinnati, Ohio and recently opened up an office in San Francisco. For startups outside of the Valley, Allison offers insight as to why he is making the move. According to him:

  • Conservative midwestern towns don’t foster the risk-taking nature of entrepreneurs
  • Cincinnati has great marketing talent, but there is more technical talent out west
  • Employees in Cincinnati don’t quite understand the mindset of working at an early stage startup environment

Allison isn’t entirely down on his (former) hometown. Cincinnati does have much cheaper real estate (less than $10 per square foot), and because DotLoop is a hot company in Cincinnati, there is a loyalty there that can’t be matched in the Valley, where hot, new companies sprout up every day. But we’d love to hear from other entrepreneurs in the midwest. What do you think of Allison’s assessment and reasons for his move? Leave a comment and let us know.



PR 101: Control the Message.

I admire Austin for what he has accomplished, especially in such a short time at such a young age. But he also has a few key lessons to learn. For one, allow yourself to be coached on how to control your message. I’m certain the last thing he wanted to do was insult the Cincinnati community in this interview. But, as with any interview, he should have prepared for questions that might not have been to his liking, such as any question that pitted Cincinnati against the Valley, obviously boxing Cincinnati in the negative. Because you can never control how an interview will be edited, you must take the reigns of the interview as much as possible and stay on your talk points. Stay on message. And remember your constituents. If Austin’s “move” to San Fran is nothing more than a second office with a small staff of 15 people, that certainly was not made clear in the video. I would have guessed he was waving goodbye to the Queen City.

I also echo Kevin’s invitation to Chris to come on out and visit us in Cincinnati. As someone who is also involved in the startup community here, and has been for the past 12 or so years, I think Chris would be surprised at just how much talent and activity exists here. He might also be shocked to learn that some startups choose to move from the coasts to Cincinnati to grow their businesses. Why? Well, one reason might be that a large majority of consumers who buy the products that his Valley cohorts are developing “live in Cincinnati or within a day’s drive of this great city.” Let’s also not forget about the wealth of international companies that have chosen to base their businesses here. There’s lots to learn in…and from…the Nati.


As a former dotcommer that lived in the Valley for 4 years during the amazing roller coaster 1999-2003, I will attest that there is a different culture in SV, but there is also an amalgamation of people from different areas across the US and the world that are imported there based on a dream, helping to drive that spark and hunger to achieve something more.

I moved back in 2003 when I, like 85,000 other people couldn’t find a job in my skillset. Before – and after – I never worried about getting a job, as I am pretty ambitious/driven, loyal, creative, tech inclined with good communication skills. My colleagues and I worked many times were at the office over 14 hours for releases. Looking for $10/hr jobs entry level jobs was no fun in a town where an 1100 sq ft condo was $475,000 in 2002.

Sure I miss my friends out there, driving my convertible over the hill on Rt 17, and yes, the weather, but I do also miss that spark of ambition and drive that does at times get fanned out here in Cincy. My family is here in Cincy, and they are helping me with my son as well, which was the biggest reason for my relocation back here. Although I am gainfully employed at a fantastic small biz, I also run a non-profit startup, which keeps my internal fire going, even though it is incredibly tough to find the critical support needed to get it off the ground and get my team paid. A lot of people I talk to about what I do here, just don’t seem to get what I do – the non-profit that is. I explain it over and over and they still have big question marks over their heads and a glazed look in their eye. There are those that do, and they have been awesome supporters in-kind, but access to the capital here locally needed to build an entrepreneur’s dream – whether for or non-profit – is challenging.

I do think the title of the article is misleading, and the edit as well, since the HQ is staying in Cincy – rather than calling it a move, it should have said “Cincinnati Based Dot.Loop Expands to Silicon Valley”

Donna Eby

We started our company 24 years ago in Cincinnati. It is an awesome place for business. Just ask Macy’s, Proctor & Gamble, Roto-Rooter and Fifth Third Bank -to name a few – that have HQ’s here. All I can say is I now work because I want to not because I have to because we have been blessed with a successful company, in a great city with fantastic employees and clients. Good luck to you my friend. Hope you find what you are looking for in this world.

Larry Carvalho

The biggest issue I see about this video is the editing that supposedly only highlights negative statements. I work with GigaOM and know that they are a very balanced company. GigaOM should put the whole video out there to remove all doubts about their integrity.

Cincinnati Business

The whole video will not mask his negative comments

Cincinnati Business

Clearly this “Entrepreneur” is not media trained. What is clear to me is that the VC said here is 7 million for control of the company and forced dotloop to put an office in Sanfran. Cincinnati will not miss this big fish. Good luck. Now that you have some dough in the bank does not mean you can burn it all. When you get to the ipo put a suit and tie and show some respect to Cincy!

Jarad Hunter

If you can build a $446 billion dollar company in Bentonville, Arkansas, with seed money from your father-in-law, you can build a great company anywhere. All you need is a product or service that fills a want or need for your target market, an ability to communicate this advantage to your customers, discipline, and some patience. The problem now is everyone wants to be an overnight billionaire, often at the expense of IPO-purchasing shareholders. Incidentally, did Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard, the founders of Silicon Valley, have an exit strategy? Money, or no money, if you truly love what you do, it’s a blessing to wake up each day and compete.

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