We understand that this is, by far, our most strange title to date! But there is a good reason for it. Envato's founder, one of the first three, Collis Ta'eed, has this very saying by Teddy Roosvelt, on the wall of his office. It is a simple statement that encapsulates of how Envato's founders got it where it is today and why it is going even further into the future.
You probably already know what Envato is. If not it is high time you did! Envato is a community and a digital marketplace with digital assets and services for website developers, video producers, software developers, graphic artists, photographers and creative and digital professionals of all kinds in general. At the same time, Envato offers tutorials,an online website builder, free stock footage, an online video maker and an app that creates websites from your Instagram account.
People can sell their creations and services, people can buy creations and services of other people and they can incorporate them in their own artifacts. Creators can sell their items, other creators can buy them and Envato makes this easy and possible.
Envato Market is divided into subsections: Theme Forrest, which offers website templates and WordPress templates, Audio Jungle, which offers music and sound effects, Video Hive, which offers videos and video toolkits and video templates, Photo Dune, which offers photos, Code Canyon, which offers codes for programmers, Graphic River, which offers graphic assets for designers, and 3D ocean, which offers 3D models.
Apart from Envato Market there is Envato Elements, a subscription based service with 1.300.000+ assets to download with one subscription (!), Envato Tuts+, which offers tutorials, Envato Studio, which offers services from the community of creatives that Envato has, Placeit, where you can create mock-ups, logos and videos, Milkshake, an app that creates websites from Instagram accounts, Envato Sites, which is a website builder and Mixkit, that offers free stock footage and video clips.
Not bad for as start up that started lean, in a garage, in Australia, with no external funding!
Theme forest is in the top 300 websites visited, globally!
Today Envato is a marketplace with millions of creators, and millions of items sold and bought.
Envato's story began when Collis Ta'eed and his then future wife Cyan Ta'eed and a long-time family friend, Jun Rung, were at college. They were ideas bouncing off to each other like cafes that sell shaved ice, chain of internet lounges but there was a market for stock flash templates online. They saw that it moved quite rapidly. The whole endeavour was nested in the minds of its founders while they were selling these Flash templates in istock, as independent sellers. Istock was a good platform for stock photos, but the UX was not what they wanted for other digital projects like i.e. videos. It wasn't designed good enough for people who were not selling anything else than photos. It was this need that pushed them to create something better, a true digital marketplaces for digital assets. So they created their own digital marketplace.
In 2006 Envato was founded by Cyan and Collis Ta'eed, husband and Jun Rung, in Collis's Bondi garage. A true start-up story that began in a garage! They decided early on that they will not take external funding. Their start up was super lean, no extra costs and a lot, a lot of downtime working on the project. They hired a developer and in six months their platform was ready. The beginning was hard, as we read in latter interviews, they had side hustles on the side, freelance gigs and they were working on their platform at the same time. On the side they had freelancing gigs that kept them afloat. In the beginning, none of them have salary. They were jotting down the hours that they worked and they would get compensated in the future. But they did put down the time. A lot of it.
Envato showed incoming revenue from day one! Think how they must have felt! Of course the future was brighter, but in that moment the shire joy of seeing their project actually work! They didn't stop there. Then they began hustle! Vahid Ta'eed, brother of Collis, was called in 2008 to join in as an executive director.
Little did Envato founders know that they will get 35 million visits per month, employing 250 people worldwide and most of all: change the landscape of creative industries worldwide.
Collis Ta'eed has said in an interview that when they started he went into a bookshop and he tried to find and follow the template how to create business. He tried to crack this code from books, see what other people have done. He had the idea that no cigars would be involved, no suits would be involved, only hard work and hustle. All of them wanted to create their dream job, that will not lock them down to a typical nine to five. In this initial period they worked extremely hard. They did marketing, campaigns, product improvements, community building, promotions, they had started a fire and slowly and steadily they fed this fire that became a firestorm.
Collis Ta’eed believes that in order to succeed in business one needs to be unreasonable with himself / herself. If one was being reasonable, one would stick with his / her regular job. It is going to be less work. It is going to offer more certainty. And it is probably relatively comfortable.
Their endeavour paid off. Big! Envato is probably one of the most profitable start-ups in the world, true at its goals and at its community. Today envato’s staff is encouraged to "make the right decision, as opposed to the profitable decision". Having evolved into the giant that they are they must be right!
We read that Collis Ta’eed has up on his wall this quote:
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. – Teddy Roosevelt, the man in the Arena“
Only the ones in the arena can know victory or defeat.