Established by three designers and a physicist, all of whom had no prior startup experience, Envato was launched in 2006 with a single site selling Adobe Flash files. Headquartered in Australia, the company has since grown into a network of more than 30 websites, where users can buy and sell digital goods as well as learn various creative and business skills.
With over a million members worldwide, the popular Envato marketplaces consist of 3DOcean, Activeden, AudioJungle, CodeCanyon, GraphicRiver, PhotoDune, ThemeForest, Tutorials, and VideoHive. This family of sites provides a venue for creative professionals and newbies to buy and sell a wide assortment of digital files, including website templates, stock photos, illustrations, music, videos, Flash files, and more.
Envato also manages the Tuts+ network, where visitors can learn creative skills for free. The educational sites cover a broad range of topics, from graphic design to photography to audio production to app development. Envato's other educational blogs include FreelanceSwitch and TheNetsetter, where freelancers and entrepreneurs can get tips and ideas.
At a business and technology conference in Melbourne, Envato co-founder and CEO Collis Ta'eed discussed how they took an iterative approach with their company. “Even for something as big and complex and scary as starting a business, it's okay to just leap in.”
Ta'eed explained that it's better to just start, then make improvements to your product and business as you go along. That way, you build market share and attract new buyers or members with each iteration, and by the time you produce a mature product, you already have a solid following supporting you. The key is to start simple and get started as fast as possible.
As an example, Ta'eed talked about Envato's Tuts+ websites. “They get a ton of traffic and happily they're profitable,” he said. “But it didn't start out that way.”
In fact, the now expansive network began as a simple HTML site put together in two hours with only three tutorials at first. “The important thing though, is that it got going quickly.”
Ta'eed added that they got to where they are now because of iteration. “That's why I believe that sometimes the best thing you can do is just start.”