Baking cakes, the massive $10,000 credit give away, spending time with family, and being the office bin man. In this series of interviews we meet those who are at the wheel steering Envato’s course—the directors. Today we meet Vahid Ta’eed.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What part of the world are you from? What type of work were you doing before Envato?
I come from a pretty diverse background. I’m half Iranian and half English, born in the UK but grew up in Papua New Guinea – or PNG for short. Both relatively large islands in even larger oceans, but almost diametrically opposite to each other on the Earth, both location wise as well as culturally.
Completing school, I left PNG and went to study optoelectronics in Australia. Lots of physics with a bit of math, comp sci and electronics thrown in for an ‘all-rounded’ experience!
After all that study I decided to ignore the booming telecom/IT industry and went to do some voluntary service at the Baha’I Gardens in Israel. These gardens form part of the administrative, and spiritual, headquarters of the Baha’I Community and their beauty is absolutely breath taking! The experience was fantastic and I really miss the good ol’ days meeting lots of amazingly talented people from all walks of life.
Coming back to Australia was a bit of a rude shock as the telecom boom turned in the telecom bust! No jobs in my field pushed me into academic research on a virtually unheard of material called chalcogenide glass. These glasses have a number of fascinating properties like being able to amplify light and turn pulses of light from one colour into another—useful if you want to make routers to handle global internet traffic!
Fortunately just as I was contemplating a research position in Bath, UK I found out that my brother was looking for help to run Envato and the rest, well its corporate history.
Besides being a director, what other roles do you play in Envato? How has your role changed over time?
CEO, COO and CFO in that order—almost a full in-house MBA you might say. Also have been the office bin man since day one!
Being Collis’ brother, you’ve obviously known him all his life. What are some of your favorite early memories of him? Did you ever imagine he’d be running a successful and growing business?
Funnily enough Collis was always a business man. His earliest ventures was baking cakes and selling them to staff in Dad’s office! In hindsight you might say that was an indicator of the entrepreneur in him.
How did Collis and Cyan initially explain their “website business” to you? What was your initial reaction, and what convinced you to get involved?
I don’t recall the nature of the first chat, but I do remember discussing with them about how to get the site jump-started. You see it was a classic “Build it, and they will come” strategy. Except not many were coming.
I recall we were sitting at an open park, just throwing some ideas around when we were inspired to do the highly successful $10,000 FlashDen Massive Credit Giveaway. It was all very exciting and hard to focus on my academic research. When I found out they needed help then I jumped on the opportunity.
When you think about the potential Envato has in the future, what excites you most?
Envato is all very exciting, so in someways I try not to think too much beyond what is in front of me. But at the same time, every six months it feels like we ‘level-up’ which means we always have to have an eye on the future when planning for the moment.
How do you spend your time once you stop working?
Mainly spending time with my family. Even mundane activities take on a more real and significant aspect after spending all week emailing and calling people in the office.
Do you have any interesting Envato-related photos?
They’re all up on the Envato Flickr photostream. This one (below) is particularly representative of the times and shows me in a stripey business shirt (must have had a meeting) using my old Dell laptop on Collis and Cyan’s dining table.
You can’t see in the photo, but the floorboards behind me had a fairly large hole leading to the floor below. Always exciting when I attempted to roll backwards on the chair!
Is there anything else you would like to say or include?
While I’ve spend lots of years studying in school and university, I would say hands down I’ve been forced to learn more, in a shorter period of time, being part of Envato. And I love it!