We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

The team of founders was excited to start building this new idea and the company was set up. They decided a trip outside the city could help jot down what they were going to do for the next part of their lives. Oval Money needed to go from an initial need and high level idea to a product. Over the next few days they would spend time with sports, good food and the mountains to get the right inspiration.

And as things go, this weekend also marked the moment when the co-founders first struggled through difficulty and were challenged by the outside world, but they came out stronger than ever and knew they could be the right team to move forward together.

The weekend brainstorming introduced the first defining element of the Oval Money product. It was supposed to give users the ability to create personalised STEPS, commands that would save a fixed or % amount on top of an expense. STEPS were the team’s approach to building a community; it was clear that people would not share their finances or compete on savings like they do on fitness app as not all people start from the same place and much of the information is very personal. But what if people could share with their friends or with people in the community their favourite ways to save, thus their STEPS?

It was clear from them on that Oval Money was going to be about setting up habits, and thanks to the community, being educated to act on these for the purpose of accumulating capital. Excited by the work, the three cofounders decide to celebrate at a restaurant in a cottage on the top of the mountain overlooking Megeve. A place where they would meet with friends and have some great dinner together with a bit of dancing.

That night, as they left the apartment it started to snow, really hard, with centimeters piling up along the road. The rental company had given Claudio a car without winter tires, but had assured him that if necessary they could always use the snow chains.

They stopped the car on the side of the road to put the snow chains, and soon realised that it was not their inability but the chains were too small, the car rental company had given Claudio the wrong set. In the end they managed to put them on somehow, but obviously this solution was not going to hold for long. The founders decided it should be enough to get us to the restaurant and so off they went at 15 km/hour. :)

The road became steep and the car at a certain point did not make it anymore, lost grip and started slipping backward. Claudio, with a quick manoeuvre managed to stop the car on the side of the road but there was still about 3km under the snow to walk to get to the restaurant. So Benedetta decided to find a way and by hitchhiking the next car, all three made it safely to dinner.

But the story becomes harder, as when calling the road assistance truck, he was not able to make it to the founders car for 4 hours, as the road to the restaurant was blocked by another accident further down and the snow was not stopping.

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It took, another hitchhike to the car and a few hours to get it on the truck and get home, but the founders were sure that they had managed to keep the calm in the snowstorm and the adversity of the situation. They could now deal with anything. And in fact they were tested the next morning with no car, when they had to get back to Torino. It took a careful planning of bus, taxi, local train and then international train to get them safely back. Even if exhausted they were happy to have bonded on this incredibly tough night.

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Back in Italy they started to search for the missing element to the team, a super strong CTO that would believe in the vision and execute it by building up the development team. The search was hard, and whilst Benedetta was scouting every woman engineer she could find as she wanted to see if she could equalise the ratio of founders, Edoardo was courting Simone, a friend he had met 5 years before at a hackaton that had always impressed him on his leadership, as well as development skills.

Simone at the time was in another funded startup and hard to convince. The team decided that he, even if not a woman, was the right person to join Oval Money. He had the right competencies that Oval Money founders had defined as crucial for their startup as well as being one of the brightest minds on machine learning and data intelligence around. That was when they started the courtship and after a few months, over a smoothie in Milan, Simone was convinced of the project and team and never looked back.

Simone joined in June; the Oval Founder team was complete. With another weekend away (this time no drama) the team consolidated the mission of Oval Money and the importance of having a super smart machine learning tool to complement the community element of the Steps designed for the platform. Collective intelligence was the way forward...