If you haven’t seen one of the Envato design marketplaces or graphic design tutorial sites as least once in your life then odds are you don’t do web design. That’s ok because the network that Collis and his team have built up is just incredible for any businesses person interested in developing high traffic sites or other kinds of online marketplaces. The amount of content this community generates is absolutely astounding. And community is exactly what Envato is about. These guys are very, very good at what they do.
Many people know Envato websites but they don’t know Collis Ta’eed. How did you get into this business?
Although my background is in design, I think entrepreneurship must have been in my blood. I’ve always loved starting things, even as a kid I had various dubious schemes and plans. Sometime after becoming a designer and then freelancer, my wife and I found ourselves discussing how much better life would be if we didn’t have any clients to please. After a whole lot of working weekends and nights, together with a super talented rails developer, we managed to launch our first site, and we’ve never looked back!
What is the Envato network?
Our company Envato has spread out a lot since those early days and we’ve launched a whole series of websites in different areas. They mostly cater to creatives, developers and freelancers and collectively we refer to them as the Envato network. Broadly speaking we have a set of digital goods marketplaces like FlashDen where people can buy and sell Adobe Flash components, and a set of educational blogs that teach technical and creative skills like Psdtuts+ where you can master Photoshop!
Along with these we like to support creatives in whatever way we can find, so we operate a popular freelancing community where there’s advice, tools and jobs for freelancers, and Creattica which offers daily design news and inspiration, and actually there are a whole lot of sites in our network. Sometimes even I have a hard time keeping up with them all.
If you were to add another site to the network what would feel natural to you?
We have a few sites up our sleeve, the one we’re working on currently is a new tutorial site called Cgtuts+ which is going to be all about 3d. We’re very excited to be growing the Tuts+ line of sites because we’re so passionate about education. I think the internet is a great equalizer for the spread of information and I’m hopeful that the Tuts+ sites will help that movement. The bulk of our content is completely free and we offer some really top grade tutorials by industry professionals. Cgtuts+ will be the sixth site in the line, and following that we’re planning a higher level education site to complement the current batch of tech skills sites.
Teaching online poses some interesting challenges but also some wonderful advantages. For instance it’s difficult to replicate one on one contact, but on the other hand the potential to make one piece of educational content and then use it an infinite number of times is hugely efficient. So I’m very excited about growing Tuts+ in the future, as well as all our other sites.
Do you consider yourself a design guy, a marketing guy or a technical guy?
These days I think of myself as an entrepreneur, but beyond that I have a very definite specialty in design. I design all our sites myself, though these days I’m not sure I can keep that up. So this year I’m faced with the challenge of replacing myself in my favourite job … oh well, all good things come to an end!
Your success is evident. Why do you think you’ve done well growing Envato? What suited you well to this task?
I think you could attribute a lot of our success to the fact that we’ve been meticulously honest and open with our business. We have a large community of users who we care about very deeply. It’s our goal to help them succeed in whatever way we can, and I think people instinctively understand and react to that.
Favorite hobby when not working?
Drinking tea! I love tea, though to be fair I do a lot of thinking about work while drinking tea. I also love playing the piano and play them whenever I find one, even when it’s at inappropriate times like in a restaurant full of people.