You would think it would be hard to draw any parallels between Eleanor Lee’s current job with Otteroo and her previous career, “I was an Intelligence Officer with the Defense Department.” While working in Washington D.C., she used her law degree to work in policy analysis, a job that required her to have several levels of clearances and debrief generals on her reports.
That all changed when she moved to San Francisco to be with her husband, “I would have loved to stay in that line of work, it was just really hard to find anything like that out here.”
Soon after moving to Northern California, she met Otteroo founder, Tiffany Chiu. Eleanor says, “We met through another friend who had just moved from St. Louis. We all kind of lived within a few blocks of each other.” The trio would jog together, try new exercise classes, and socialize at happy hours.
It was over those conversations that Tiffany convinced Eleanor to join her in her effort to get Otteroo started. Tiffany was getting ready to launch the Otteroo float after a year of prototyping and about to attend her first trade show. Eleanor hadn’t had much luck carving out a new career for herself in Silicon Valley. So they were both taking a leap of faith on each other. Eleanor thought, “I’ll come on board and see where this goes.” That was in 2013, “And, I’m still here,” she laughs.
Back then, Eleanor describes the fledgling Otteroo as scrappy. She jokes, “We were definitely mailing out Otteroos from our apartments, making the mail people hate us.” Eleanor remembers how they would struggle to set up their own booths at trade shows and do everything on their own, in general.
Now, her role has become operational management, “I take care of a lot of internal matters: business and tax filings, human resources, customer service matters, things like that,” she says. And, that is where the similarities between her two seemingly opposite careers come in. “Even though I am not technically practicing law now, I like to think I am pretty detail oriented and organized, so I take care of a lot of the administrative matters that running a small business entails – it’s not super exciting but it’s important we are compliant in all areas.”
Still dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, just in a very different industry.