Sramana: I have talked to a lot of entrepreneurs who are running exchange marketplace businesses. What you are describing is a phenomenon where people make a living from far away places and I think that aspect of these marketplace business is fantastic.
Collis Ta’eed: It is spectacular. I think it is about the Internet empowering people. All of our authors are entrepreneurs throughout the world. What is exciting about companies like ours is that these are companies which empower other entrepreneurs. It is a nice tie-in and a good way to stimulate economies.
Sramana: Have you taken any outside financing or have you grown this company entirely on your own?
Collis Ta’eed: That is correct. The company is owned by myself and Cyan. My dad is the Chairperson of the Board. Sometimes I think people get tired of all the Taeed’s in the company! My little brother was doing customer support when he graduated. He left to become a doctor. I can’t imagine why!
Sramana: How many people are in the company?
Collis Ta’eed: There are a little over 100 overall. We have 60 people in Melbourne and about 50 people working remotely doing all sorts of things.
Sramana: This is a 10 million dollar business with about 100 people working on it. What are the functions within the company that you need to deal with to run this marketplace?
Cyan Ta’eed: When the marketplaces started to take off I took over as the marketplace manager. When I had my first job as a graphic designer my boss quickly realized that my passion was project management. My ability to take that role suited us very well when we started Envato. Collis would create fantastic business ideas and I would then take on the ideas and put a team around them.
On the marketplace side we have a review team and an editor. We had a couple of people doing each in the early days as remote members. We kept responsibilities quite broad and we responded to customer needs dynamically. As time went on we expanded our development team in Melbourne. Collis and I decided to do our part of the business remotely as well. We did a lot of traveling and we worked remotely for a year and a half.
That stopped working well. The development team in particular needed to be a single location. We were in France at the time visiting my mother in Paris. We decided to return to Melbourne to establish an office. We then created a more structured development team. From that point on development has been centralized.
Collis Ta’eed: As you grow you expand your capabilities. Our headquarters also has legal, finance and HR. We still have a lot of remote functions which we pretty much hire through our communities. We would advertise in our forums and hire people who were using those forums as moderators and editors. The remote team is unusual as these people work out of the homes.