Stargazer: Collis Ta’eed

In the Envato office in Melbourne, Collis talks to one of the strategy analysts about the future plans for the company.

When you think about your job in the future, do you imagine fun things like a Ping-Pong table and a basketball hoop? At Collis Ta’eed’s company, Envato, having fun is serious business. Collis says, “It’s not important to sit on your chair from 9:00 to 5:00. It’s much more . . . about the results you produce.”

Collis earned a degree in math and science at University of Technology Sydney. After college, he realized he was passionate about website design, so he taught himself those skills. In 2006, he, his wife, Cyan, and a friend started Envato. It’s an online marketplace where people buy things like websites, logos, and videos to use in projects. The company has grown from a few people in a garage to a sunny office with 180 employees. In 2014, it was named “Australia’s Coolest Tech Company.” Collis and his family live in Melbourne, Australia, and they love having adventures around the world.


Q: What’s your favorite childhood memory? 

Probably playing with my dogs . . . At about age three, I moved to Papua New Guinea, and we always had a lot of dogs . . . maybe 10 or 11 dogs over the years . . . I loved playing with them.


Collis (at left in blue shirt) went to Hong Kong for a vacation with his family when he was about seven years old.


Q: What was your most challenging experience as a kid, and how did you handle it? 

Making some friends was very challenging. I changed school,
and . . . making new friends when you’ve left all your old friends behind was a very difficult kind of adjustment . . . I dealt with it [by] just trying to be friendly . . .


Q: Tell us about the company you and your wife started, Envato. 

It is . . . a marketplace, like an eBay, but the things that people sell are things you use for website-type projects . . . So imagine PowerPoint templates, or a business card template where the buyer just buys that thing and then fills in the information . . .   There’s 50,000 people who are selling, and then two million people who are buying . . . There’s all kind of stuff, like websites . . . animation or videos, stock photography, music . . .

I get to see [my wife] in the office every day . . . It’s great. I don’t know that it would work for everybody, but it really works for us . . . At the end of the day, we’ll often recount various things, and we both really understand everything that’s going on.


Collis and his wife, Cyan, live in Melbourne, Australia.


Q: Envato won a 2014 award for being the coolest tech company. What makes it cool? 

We try to run the business with values . . . based on . . . Bahá’í values . . . we try to make ethical decisions . . .   

We do a lot of flexibility . . . It doesn’t really matter if you’re in the office. It doesn’t even really matter if you’re in the country . . . So we have a lot of our employees go work in other countries for a few months at a time.


Q: How do you think technology will change in the next five years? 

Augmented reality . . . So a bit like Pokemon Go . . . The idea that you’re doing something in the physical world, but there’s elements of your digital worlds. When you look at your phones and see a picture of the world around you, you’re seeing extra things that aren’t there. I think that’s a very interesting, new part of the future.



Q: What inspired you to cofound the website Baha’i Blog? 

A friend of mine, Naysan, who also grew up in Papua New Guinea, was very excited to create . . . [and] to do something which we felt was a really high- standard Bahá’í publication, but also one that was very much geared towards Bahá’ís . . .

Our goals are . . . to produce more global content . . . We try to reflect as much diversity and perspectives as possible. And so with things like Studio Sessions, which are recording the musicians, we’ve been trying to go to as many countries as possible to record as many types of music . . . Our goal is really just to try to broaden as much as possible and to get more Bahá’ís blogging, and to get more Bahá’ís making music and making art.


Q: Some people think today’s kids and youth are too focused on smartphones, tablets, and social media. What advice do you have for kids about using this technology?

I think that smartphones, media, and tablets . . . are just part of life today . . .  I think in life, everything and anything should be taken in moderation and balance . . . smartphones are great and tablets are great. They open up all sorts of opportunities. Should you use them exclusively? Maybe not. Go out and see the world.


Q: If you had one wish for Brilliant Star’s readers, what would it be? 

To have a full life, to experience a lot, to see the world, to meet lots of people, but also to . . . experience good things, bad things, and just have a very rich life. I feel like this life, while not the be-all end-all, is still a very meaningful one, and having a full life gives a person the opportunity to develop . . . their virtues, and to form . . . who they are.


Photos by Devika Bilimoria and Josh Janssen

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