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Tips From The Top: Conversation With Austin and Angela Allison

I spoke to Austin and Angela, founders of dotloop and WineSociety, about their journey and best advice

Adam: Thanks again for taking the time to share your story and your advice. First things first, though, I am sure readers would love to learn more about you. What is something about you that would surprise people?

Angela: My husband and co-founder Austin and I were “high school sweethearts,” and I immediately knew we would be together forever. One of the things that bonds us is our love for risk, adventure and taking the path less traveled. Whether we are jumping out of airplanes, remodeling houses or starting a new company we feed off challenging and exciting endeavors!

Adam: How did you get here? What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your growth?

Angela: In 2012, Austin’s company dotloop brought us to California and we began our split lifestyle between Cincinnati, OH and San Francisco, CA. Being from the midwest, we didn’t drink wine. It was a little foreign to us, seemed out of reach, expensive and just intimidating. However, now living only an hour away from wine country, and hearing amazing things about it, we set our preconceived notions aside and planned our first trip to Napa Valley. We were shocked at how inviting and welcoming the culture was and couldn’t believe we had been missing out for so long! Over the years, we continued to grow our appreciation for Napa Valley and wine in general and began to share that experience with friends. Having the opportunity to compare the difference in cultural uniqueness, product offerings, and personal habits between the midwest and California got our minds turning. There was still a barrier and intimidation that existed for many (as we had experienced) and we saw an opportunity to start a company, where we bring great quality wine in simple familiar packaging (cans) without all the complexity and at an affordable price. A drinkable everyday wine.

The biggest hurdle we’ve faced is the industry’s archaic methods. The alcohol industry hasn’t progressed far past the prohibition days. It can take months for shipping approval to any one state! Following approval, the process from purchase to delivery involves at least 5 third-party companies or systems. But that is one of the things that intrigued us about this industry. It is similar to how the real estate industry was when we started dotloop.

The biggest challenge as executive leaders has been to learn to follow our own instincts. It is so important to be a good listener and be open to opinions and advice, but it is also important to know when to take action and follow your gut instinct. A few times since the launch we have made the mistake of doing what others thought we should do, instead of doing what we originally planned and ended up having to backtrack. One of WineSociety’s core company values, is “Fail Forward”. Mistakes will always be made, but you can use them as an opportunity to grow.

Adam: In your experience, what are the defining qualities of an effective leader? How can leaders and aspiring leaders take their leadership skills to the next level?

Austin: Listening, delegating and executing. Knowing when to listen and brainstorm and knowing when to execute. It is so easy to create ideations, but you will find yourself spinning in circles if you don’t set parameters and know when to execute.

Another important quality is learning not to spend your time micromanaging. It is important to hire a team that you trust, and allow the team to grow together. Listening to opinions and knowing when to step in and make hard choices are key to a well oiled machine!

Adam: What are your three best tips applicable to entrepreneurs, executives and civic leaders?

Austin: The best three tips we can give are:

  1. Put systems in place to streamline your business and create efficiency anywhere you can
  2. Be sure that everyone on the team has clearly defined roles and know how they play into the overall system
  3. Utilize your resources by surrounding yourself with advisors and industry professionals in different areas of the business that can help in areas that may not be in your wheelhouse.

Adam: What is the single best piece of advice you have ever received?

Austin: Surround yourself with great people.

Adam: What is one thing everyone should be doing to pay it forward?

Angela: At WineSociety we are always looking to the greater good. Our tagline is Live Tastefully. It is important to be thoughtful and tasteful in everything you do. Even if you can only do small things to start, every bit matters. We can all be more conscious of each other as individuals, a kind word or smile can go far. It is also important to be mindful of our environment. We have chosen cans for our packaging as they are 100% renewable resource and a much better option than bottles. Take small steps for big strides.

Adam: What are your hobbies and how have they shaped you?

Angela: We love to entertain! Sharing an amazing meal accompanied by friends and great wine is part of our everyday lifestyle. This love sparked our idea for WineSociety and continues to be an inspiration for brand.

Fitness and traveling are also big players in our lives. Staying strong both in body and mind allow you to think more clearly and be your best self. Taking inspiration from the places we visit, whether that be through food, design or culture and finding things we are grateful for.

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