Stani Kulechov is a long-time programmer, first learning to do so as a teenager. He was interested in finance and became involved in fintech communities while studying law at the University of Helsinki. It was there he first discovered Ethereum and the concept of smart contracts, which got him excited about the possibility of blockchain technology to create a decentralized financial ecosystem and to make financial products more efficient.
In 2017, Kulechov launched ETHLend, an Ethereum-based peer-to-peer lending and borrowing platform, as one of the first decentralized finance platforms. The next year, the project rebranded to Aave and expanded its focus beyond just Ethereum and lending.