Based in Kosovo, Laborator are one of our newest Power Elite Authors. We decided to ask them some questions about how they got started and how they built a business out of doing what they love. The following has been lightly edited for clarity. Enjoy!
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and what do you do for a living?
We’re a small team, made of three people: Arlind, Art and Ylli. Our journey started in 2009 when Arlind discovered CodeCanyon and began developing scripts to sell online, and Art uploaded his first PSD template to ThemeForest. While working in the same company in 2011, we came up with an idea to join our forces and make a team that would focus on creating unique and creative themes on ThemeForest so we named our company Laborator. The idea was that every one of our themes would be named based on the Periodic Table of Elements.
Even though our first two themes were rejected, we moved on and didn’t give up. It was really difficult so we started thinking this is not our thing. Our aim was to be next to our competitors in the first row of ThemeForest Authors, so we didn’t stop and BINGO, our first WordPress theme Silicon was approved. That was a big relief for us, and a sign to go through with our goals.
In the summer of 2014 Ylli joined our team, and we started building our Kalium theme. This theme was the main path to becoming a Power Elite Author, and we don’t plan to stop there.
Tell us one thing about you no one else knows?
There is no secret recipe to what we’ve done, just focus. We were determined to focus only on ThemeForest, and so we rejected freelance work and other job offers. That allowed us to quit our monthly salary jobs and continue doing something we really love – we believe that will reach the top Authors milestone on Envato Marketplaces.
This is where it all started: we rented this apartment to use as our personal office. At that time we had only $2,000 budget to cover our rent, tables, sofas and other stuff.
Is there anything unusual or noteworthy about your life experience?
When we started, we were quite young compared to other authors here: Arlind was 20 and Art 17. We were saving to pay for our studies and summer holidays. Arlind applied to get a Visa for studying in Sweden and was rejected, but each failure has its own benefits. After that, we started Laborator – and that has now given us much bigger opportunities.
Before being work colleagues, the three of us are best friends. We spend a lot of time together, even after work… We go out together, we like to travel and see new places, meet new people and get inspired.
Why are you doing what you are doing? What do you love about it?
As kids we were passionate internet users and web lovers. Something that we love about our job is that there are always new challenges, so we’ve turned our work time into fun-time that we enjoy doing. You have to be creative to survive.
Kallium – Creative Theme for Professionals by Laborator
What’s your most memorable client/customer story on Envato?
Three years ago, we released our Oxygen theme and then went for a vacation in Turkey. While we were away, a happy customer (Stuart Boyle) started to reply to all the customers and fix any issues they had with the theme.
Oxygen – WooCommerce WordPress Theme by Laborator
What’s the most challenging thing about your work?
Building something that will not be just another theme, something that everyone will be amazed with the fresh look and feel. Being a small team has its pros and cons. Our biggest challenge is the limited time that we have to build and give support to each of our items. Once, due to the enthusiasm we had for a theme release we slept for days and weeks in the office, locked in there for a theme that wouldn’t be as successful as we expected. That hard work paid off later, though.
“…we slept for days and weeks in the office, locked in there for a theme that wouldn’t be as successful as we expected.”
What is your advice to other Authors regarding how to create a successful portfolio?
Be unique. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel and get out of the box too much, but try to have a clear design language for all of your items. Follow the trends and combine them with your personal style. Also, pay attention to the details even when you feel like you’re tired of it. It’s always important to focus on quality over quantity.
Is where you live a good place to be a creative professional? Why?
Even though it’s a small land-locked country, Kosovo has a breathtaking natural environment. For us, growing up in a place that had a war just 17 years ago is really inspiring: people never gave up and were always seeking for opportunity. Currently, Kosovo has the youngest population in Europe. We think that we have a lot of talents that can contribute in many different areas, especially technology.
Aurum – Minimalist Shopping Theme by Laborator
What do you do to market your files?
Like most successful Authors, to advertise our items we use Google Adwords, articles on creative sites and featured theme collections. We invest approximately 15-20 percent of the earnings we get every month on marketing. Besides this, we think that the key factor is to have an eye-catching product so clients will have a reason to get back on it. We also rely on our loyal customers that chose our products again because of the experience they had with them and with the team.
We invest approximately 15-20 percent of the earnings we get every month on marketing.
Apart from yourself, who is your favourite marketplace Author, and why do you like them?
How do you feel about your achievement?
The first thing that comes to mind now is the moment when we started it, we can’t believe we have made it!