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Growth of a Remote Startup with Flowtrace I: How to Build a Team

We interviewed Olga Starosotska, entrepreneur and CEO of Monshare, an expense tracker app. In this part, we look at how Monshare used Flowtrace to put together the remote team and got the business started.

Olga Starosotska, CEO of Monshare

GROWTH OF AN ORGANIZATION

How did you get started?

Monshare had two journeys that led to its creation:

1. We had a month-long trip with my dear friend and investor, Shilpa, through four countries going all the way to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We used four different currencies, with expenses totaling over 120 transactions. We wanted to find something to track our expenses and used one of the most common apps, Splitwise, to calculate our costs. After three weeks of traveling you couldn't make sense of the data anymore, since the app got totally confused with all the currencies – if someone asked whether Uzbekistan is an expensive country, I couldn't tell you!

2. I also needed a tool to manage our joint economy with my partner. He doesn't have the patience to log in our expenses, so it needed to be super easy to use. We tried every solution in the market from expense trackers to digital banking apps. That set our whole household economy off and we were both blind to how much we were spending.

Basically my phone and computer were full of different apps, tools, and spreadsheets for trips and personal expenses and I really wanted just one master tool. 

How big is your team? And how did you manage the teams' growth?

Two people at first. Then we had (another) Olga join, VP of UX. We've known each other since we were teenage roommates. She did the first mock-ups. We had plenty of different views on what our expense sharing product could look and feel like, but it was easy to have that conversation with just three people in the room. 

In a startup titles and hierarchy don’t matter at all; people could call themselves "Master of the Universe" for all I cared.

Developing the product was the next step. We reached out to our network and found Max, our CTO. Then we had one of his friends join as VP of product engineering, another Max. So we've got two Olgas and two Maxes!

Did you have other organizational challenges when the company grew?

We now have a seven-person team plus me, but there were probably seven others for whom our routine wasn’t sustainable. It's definitely a lot easier to get people started than it is to keep the passion and productivity alive if the work culture is out of sync for you. 

Do communications all go through you? 

Well, according to our readings on Flowtrace, to my surprise, actually that's not the case! The very first time I looked at the dashboard, I saw I was at the center of communication. Directional relationships in FlowtraceBut then I've noticed that people are making connections with each other. And slowly but surely they are communicating independently of me, which is fantastic. I've started to encourage people to ping each other. If I told people to discuss something elsewhere, I could see that they are actually connecting with each other on the topic. I can see our new team members becoming more engaged too.

This is Part 1 of a 4-part interview. Read all of Olga's Startup Story and how Flowtrace helped Monshare with different organizational challenges.

Growth of a Remote Startup with Flowtrace I: How to Build a Team (current article)
Growth of a Remote Startup with Flowtrace II: How to Manage Time
Growth of a Remote Startup with Flowtrace III: How to Lead with Culture
Growth of a Remote Startup with Flowtrace IV: Communication Priorities