Collis Ta’eed with his wife Cyan started out with an idea — they wanted to create a marketplace where digital media producers could sell their creations to customers.
They began with the then popular Flash file format and later expanded into things like WordPress themes, music, video and code. Each type of media had a marketplace, including Themeforest for WordPress and Audiojungle for music files.
As is typical for the marketplace model, they took a small fee from each transaction.
All these marketplaces would later be combined together under the company name Envato.
Today Envato is still a privately held company having been bootstrapped from day one. Because they are private, we don’t have any public numbers about how much money they generate, but based on what journalists in Australia have written, the company does about $300 Million a year in revenue.
Collis, at the time he stepped down as CEO of Envato in 2020, reported that they had crossed the major milestone of $1 Billion in creator earnings. 81,000 creators have earned through Envato since the company was founded.
The Early Days
I connected with Collis back when we were both part of the Australian blogging community around 2010.
Back then, Collis was the creator of a blog called Freelance Switch, supporting freelancers with advice and tutorials for growing their business.
That was early days for his marketplaces, but signs were already showing that he had a business that was scaling rapidly.
A few years later I was producing a new interview series as a subscription product for my education business and invited Collis to do a bonus interview for the program.
At the time Envato was already a multi-million dollar business selling a digital item every ten seconds.
Collis and I recorded this interview at a great time. They were successful, but they had yet to reach the point where he and his wife were appearing on the ‘young rich list‘ in Australia, which immediately boosted their public profile significantly (making it a lot harder to get in touch with Collis!).
During the interview, Collis shared the entire foundation story of Envato, from going into $100,000 in debt and living with his inlaws, how they built their marketplaces and attracted creators and buyers and why they never took on investment finance and stayed bootstrapped the entire way.
A New-Old Interview
Although this interview is not brand new, it’s never been released to the public before. Only members of my membership site had access until now.
I’m releasing it here on Vested Capital because it’s a story of an Australian tech unicorn (not officially, but the numbers would justify the valuation if they ever did an IPO or raised finance privately) and shares how the company was started.
Marketplaces are still an amazing business model to go after today, so I know this interview will prove inspiring and insightful.
Enjoy the podcast.