A couple of months ago I got a letter in the mail from one of our authors. It came in the middle of a tough week at work and I kept it on my desk all week to re-read. The letter’s author had written:
“I’m not a crying man, but I’ve shed a handful of tears over the last four years watching my computer screen tell me I’m making a living doing what I love. It’s so powerful what Envato has given to so many authors, it’s beyond words.”
There’s plenty to improve at Envato, but I’m very proud that we have a hand in the success of our talented community. Whenever I run company inductions for new staff I always tell them, “We’re a proper capitalist business here, BUT we’re setting out to run that business in a values driven way.” And the most significant part of our values is; that we want to succeed by helping our community members to succeed doing what they love.
Helping that community earn is the reason we started this company, and it’s something I’m passionate about. When I published last year’s Envato 2015 Roadmap, we’d passed $250M in all-time community earnings. And recently we passed $400M. That’s pretty awesome, but we think it could be bigger. Which would mean more community members earning a livelihood doing what they love.
To do that, we need to continue growing our customer base. There are plenty of other things we’re working on for our community, but number one is bringing in more people to buy their content and services.
If we can bring in more customers, help our authors deliver them the content they want, make it accessible for the ones who are less-tech savvy, and do it sustainably as a company, then that means more community members will earn on our platforms.
Those four things make up our roadmap. And at the start of this year we reorganized the company around those four things, so that every team works towards one of those four areas. Here they are in more detail…
First, the Customers Team and Mission
The largest part of Envato is now our Customers team. Their mission is to bring in and keep customers in our ecosystem. There are already 2 million active customers who purchase from us each year, and our team is working to grow that number, and keep those people coming back.
The kinds of things you can expect to see from the Customers team are more payment options (particularly international ones), a whole new affiliates system, more organic traffic, a bigger commitment to paid acquisition, more customized and targeted email engagement, refreshed home/search/category pages, more gateways from Tuts+ over to Market and more!
Beyond that, this year we’ll be launching our new Envato Elements product. Pitched at our higher volume professional customers, Elements is an unlimited subscription for creative wares. We’re extremely excited about its launch later this year and think you will be too!
The Customers team is made up of marketing, the product, design and development teams responsible for our shopfronts, and our help teams. And it’s all led by Ben Chan who joined us a few years ago tasked with growth and strategy. You’ll see and hear more from Ben around here as he and his team report back to the community on their customer work.
Second, the Content Team and Mission
If the Customers team’s job is to bring the people, the Content team’s job is to help our Authors deliver the right content for those customers.
Surprisingly for a company whose business centres on content and the amazing Authors who create it, this is the first time we’ve had a deeply focused multi-disciplinary team on content. We’ve pulled together our content strategy team, content quality and operations team, Author product, design and engineering teams.
We think in the future Envato is going to look and feel quite different for Authors. We want to move to a world where we are giving Authors more tools and services to help them deliver their content. From refund and support policies, to pricing, to updates – we’d like Authors to more properly be in the driver’s seat.
A big focus for the Content team is adapting this kind of thinking to our review queue. We think there’s space for a smarter system that recognizes Authors who need more or less help, where our quality teams are spending more time on-boarding, coaching, empowering Authors to success. Coupled with this vision, we’re working on more library management of older content, and lots more hiring and product work for our existing review queues!
Third, the Small Business Team and Mission
The largest portion of our customer base is professional users. But in recent years we’ve seen a rising group of users that are struggling to get great results using the same tools and technologies that professionals use. We group these users under the umbrella of small business, and last year we spent a lot of time thinking about how to make our content most accessible to them. At the end of the year we decided to focus on two things: websites and services.
The Small Business Team are charged with creating platforms for our author base to create awesome websites using simple and accessible tools.
For small businesses who want the power and flexibility of WordPress, we’re working on our beta Envato Hosted program to deliver one-click setup of WordPress themes straight from ThemeForest. For customers that means a fast start on a powerful system, and for Authors, it’ll mean recurring revenue and a wider customer base.
For small businesses who want a really accessible tool but love the power of our community’s design mojo, we’re working on Envato Sites. We’ve got an incredibly easy turnkey system that means authors can deliver the latest, greatest design trends straight into the hands of literally any customer.
Couple these website solutions with Envato Studio’s deep service library, and businesses will be able to get everything from logo design to video production to help them market and grow their business.
While there are a lot of professional customers out in the world, their numbers are dwarfed by the 125 million small businesses. We believe that by facilitating our community to sell and service those small businesses, a whole new category of community earnings will be unlocked. And in the process, businesses who couldn’t afford or access a professional will find new ways to market and grow their own businesses.
And Fourth, our Business Platform Team
Our fourth group is often invisible to the outside community. They’re the people who make our company run. The platform they run for Envato spans from our analytics and business intelligence team to our infrastructure teams, from HR to finance, all the way to our award-winning legal team. This group makes it possible for the others to make the magic you see on our sites every day. You’ll know they’re winning when the three things above (customers, content and small business) hit it out of the park!
How will we know we’re succeeding?
It’s been almost ten years since Cyan, Jun and I started up Envato. Like every new business, we started out just hoping to have a business, and we chose to make one that helps designers and developers like us make money on the internet.
Today Envato is a super company, with a wonderful team, a big community, and a huge global customer base. Our hopes and aspirations for the company have gotten much bigger, but they’re still essentially the same. We want Envato to help designers, developers and every type of creative do what they love. And we’re still tracking our progress as community earnings. We’ll know things are panning out as that number climbs. Sometime this year we should see it tick past a half a billion dollars. And if that’s not a great story for a little bootstrapped business, then I don’t know what is.
If you’ve got questions about our roadmap – ask away! As always we’ll answer as much as we can. With the complexity of the business, we don’t commit to specific launches or timelines, but are happy to share general direction and goals!