Founder Friday — Meet Paula from Rufus

Learn more about Paula Odysseos-Panayiotou, VP of Compliance and Co-founder of Rufus. The Rufus Cuff is a ruggedized, wearable computer enabling a superhuman workforce, allowing wearers to be better, faster and safer on the job.

Paula, VP of Compliance & Co-Founder of Rufus

THE BACKSTORY

What did you think you wanted to be when you were in HS?

I always wavered between wanting to be a rock star and a lawyer, but quickly realized I couldn’t really sing…

What did you study in college and what was your first job?

I studied International Relations, Spanish and economics at the University of Pennsylvania. After working as a paralegal for a couple of years in NYC, I attended Georgetown law, before returning to New York.

What did you do in your previous life, prior to co-founding Rufus?

I practiced law — lots and lots of law, in a bunch of different practice areas. An important part of my service as a lawyer, and one of the most rewarding aspects, has been pro bono work. Some of my favorite projects have been coaching a high school mock trial team and representing clients through Northeast New Jersey Legal Services.

THE ENTREPRENEUR

What inspired you to start Rufus?

2013 was a really tough time in my life, a little less than a year after my dad (an electrical engineer) passed away. He loved putting together and taking apart computers, and as far back as I can remember, his office was always filled to the brim with circuit boards. Gabe approached me with his vision for the Rufus Cuff in 2013, and asked me to join his team, along with Matt and Travis. Rufus was what I needed to refocus my life, and helped pull me out of a funk. Hardware — and building computers with hardware — meant a lot to my father. Being part of Rufus feels like a way to honor his memory, and something I know he would be excited about.

I have also known my co-founders since we were kids — Gabe since fifth grade, and Matt since first grade. They are a large part of my old school crew and support network. Gabe thinks big — he always has — and when he has an idea and invites you to be part of it, you know it is going to be an adventure!

What has been your biggest challenge growing your company?

Our biggest challenge right now is the sourcing of components to move into final production. Hardware production requires hundreds of components, and if there are issues with obtaining one piece, the entire process is delayed.

What has been your biggest win?

Our customer base on Indiegogo has probably been the Company’s biggest win. Those customers are the heart of our company, and their support is what is enabling us to transform a vision into a reality.

THE PERSON

When you’re not working on your company, how do you spend your time?

If I could travel and live out of a suitcase, I probably would. Reading about other cultures and watching documentaries is the next best thing. On a local level, I have always been fascinated with the phenomenon of neighborhoods in cities forming around a particular culture, and I love learning about different cultures, especially through food. I also love sharing those experiences with my family and friends.

Best place you’ve ever traveled to?

Iceland, because that was where I experienced the surreal beauty of the Northern Lights, probably the dopest thing I have ever seen!

How would your mother or maternal figure describe your personality?

“Curious and reflective with a great sense of humor!”

Your favorite get sh*t done quote —

“Goonies never say die.”

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