“I’m a really good matchmaker,” Otteroo Founder Tiffany Chiu proudly states. “I really like connecting people. To people, to jobs, you name it,” she explains when asked how she picked her team of employees.
Surrounding Tiffany at the dinner table is her staff, which consists of a friend-of-a-friend, a running buddy, a former roommate, a business acquaintance, and her former classmates’ sister-in-law. All of the women are accomplished in their own right in unrelated fields, and were convinced by Tiffany to join her growing team. “I have the personality where if I want something, I will make it happen,” she says without hesitation.
As the daughter of an entrepreneur, Tiffany assumed that eventually, she would be a business owner herself. “I think in my 20s, I was working really hard because I wanted to go to business school,” she recalls. “Once I got my MBA, I continued to work 60 hours a week as a management consultant but eventually, I felt like, this is no existence,” Tiffany states. “I want to build a company where everyone is happy, and no one is working over 40 hours a week. Where it’s fun, challenging, efficient.”
The Otteroo employees are gathered around a table at one of the hottest restaurants in the Mission District of San Francisco listening to Tiffany recall why she decided to create the Otteroo, “If my parents got me comfortable in the water at an early age, I wouldn’t have been so afraid to learn to swim.”
Tiffany only learned to swim when she was in college because it was a requirement to graduate from Cornell University and she was nearly traumatized from the experience. When she saw her infant nephew having so much fun in the water in a similar float, she realized what such a floatie, which eventually became the Otteroo float, could do for infants. She considered how it could get babies comfortable in the water from an early age so that kids won’t have to be so fearful of the water as she had been and she couldn’t stop thinking of the possibilities.
Tiffany launched Otteroo from San Francisco in 2012, and started selling the infant neck floats in 2014. When asked if she had any regrets, she referred to a poster she has hanging in her apartment.
An avid snowboarder, Tiffany draws parallels to her own experience of starting her own company. She says, “The skier may not be sure how he got to the top of the mountain, but he knows that once he’s there, there’s only one way to get down the mountain. There’s no other choice.”