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By creatives, for creatives: the story of Envato

It started in a garage.

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In many ways, Envato is a typical startup success story: the garage-basement office, the bootstrapped business launch, fueled by a passion for community and creativity. But as with most entrepreneurial ventures, that success didn’t happen overnight.

Envato was created by creatives, for creatives. In 2006, co-founder Collis and Cyan Ta’eed both have backgrounds in design. While working as freelance designers, they saw a need in the market for stock creative assets – and decided to create that marketplace.

In five months, working from Cyan’s parent’s basement garage, the team created the early version of Envato’s marketplaces.

“I think we always felt like there were just all these creative people around the world, and they were just waiting to be connected with all the people that needed their stuff,” explains Cyan. “If we could make a site where people could earn their livelihoods doing the work that they loved, on their own terms, then that would be an absolutely amazing outcome.”

The first marketplace, ActiveDen, was a market for Flash items – Flash, at the time, was incredibly popular (it’s since fallen out of fashion). Envato built that marketplace, the creatives came to sell their items, and the customers came and started buying them.

As Collis and Cyan launched marketplaces for other areas, like audio and video, Envato grew into a full-scale creative ecosystem for digital assets.

When ThemeForest launched, a marketplace for WordPress themes and website templates, it represented a significant milestone for the company, and quickly grew to be one of the largest creative marketplaces on the internet.

Over a decade later – after name changes, product launches, successes, and failures – Envato is celebrating a major milestone: $500,000,000 in lifetime community earnings.

Photo: Co-founder Collis Ta-eed at Envato HQ.

This success comes from a focus on community and a lean startup approach. “One of the early things we got right with Envato was our model. At our core is a marketplace model, and it’s a very effective one for online businesses. More importantly, it was very effective for a bootstrapped business with no cash investment,” writes Collis in an article about founding Envato.

Today, Financial Review calls Envato ‘the most profitable start-up you haven’t heard of’, and Forbes recently wrote about how we’re ‘leading the freelance sharing space’. We like to think that our focus on diversity initiatives in the tech space, our unique brand of values-driven agile, and remote-first work environment makes Envato a little different.

We’re constantly inspired by our creative community. In April 2017, we celebrated a milestone of $500M in community earnings:

Learn more about our community, and about growth at Envato.


Brittany Jezouit

About the Author Brittany Jezouit

Brittany is the editor of the Envato blog. You can follow her on Twitter @brittanyjezouit.