Artbees is a worldwide author team with one of the strangest names on Envato Market, and they have recently reached $1,000,000 in sales! Congratulations!
We sat down (virtually) with Artbees and asked them a few questions on their life as authors, including what’s up with the name?
Happy Power Elite Day Artbees!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? And what’s the deal with the name Artbees?
We are Artbees; a company co-founded by Rouzbeh Firouzmand, Max Frazeman and Bob Ulusoy. Just as it sounds, we are like bees in a hive. Our bees come from US, Iran, Poland, Armenia and Turkey and our hive is located in Istanbul, Turkey. As committed developers and designers, we are working to create products that changes people’s lives.
What Envato Market sites are you on and what are you selling?
We are selling products on GraphicRiver and ThemeForest. We started with GraphicRiver and soon became one of its top authors. Currently on GraphicRiver, we have a strong exhibit of product mockups. Later, we started to output more items on ThemeForest and now we are primarily focused on WordPress themes.
What are your workplaces like?
Our workplace has evolved from humble beginnings in our rooms to abandoned office spaces to remote workflow arrangements. When we started our business at ThemeForest, we had to find a place to collaborate as a team seamlessly. We ended up taking over an abandoned office in return for free completion of the owner’s project to cover the rent.
Right after the release of our first item in ThemeForest –LucidPress– we hired our first support staff from Czech, which was expanded to more team members for our next two themes. This was the onset of an expanded remote workflow phase.
After our latest product –The Ken-, we were even bigger and decided to settle on an office in the lovely city of Istanbul.
We’ve configured our headquarters for optimized working output tailored to each employee’s preference. All colleagues enjoy an all-free beverage station furnished with bean bags, a ping pong table and a dedicated brainstorming space. Trust me, this place rocks for any developer/designer nerd.
You had me at all-free beverage station. What is your creative process like? Can you walk us through some steps?
It is really a gradual process. We’ve learned that without brainstorming and a solid planning, even a brilliant product will be destined to fail.
We start by defining the goals, targeting of our audience, refining the features and purpose of the product, among others. Later, we start building on our collective ideas and doing some rough sketches of product structure and layout. Some of them are a bit over the top and need to be moderated later and some are shelved for a future release of the product.
Execution of a product takes the longest time. When faced with a user end bug, we may be forced to delete and re-do everything from scratch. Once the product enters the beta testing phase, we are faced with the most overwhelming phase of the job. Many times, just as the product is about to be published and we are all excited to see the fruition of our labor, a bug is found and we have to go back to square 1. But overall, it is fun. We enjoy it totally.
Some great advice about not be afraid to go back to the beginning. So tell me, why do you do what you do and what do you love about it?
The fulcrum of our business was to create digital products or services based on a revolutionary idea wrapped in a perfect design. It turns out that Envato was offering us the perfect platform to accomplish that!
Our first line of products focused on providing freebies that do not look like a freebie! This strategy actually helped up to kickstart our activity on GraphicRiver. We used our free products on DeviantArt to give our other projects at GraphicRiver targeted exposure. One of our items was featured on GraphicRiver and climbed to the top of the top seller spot in very short order.
We gradually phased out free products and planned on initiating our product development on ThemeForest. From that day on, we focused on creating high quality WordPress themes with cutting-edge functionality and design. Thanks to the Envato marketplaces we have made noticeable progress towards the goals we initially designed and will continue within this path with new products and services we are really capable of.
Getting into the creative groove can be difficult for an author, how do you kick start that process?
Our team members have their own individual means of getting their creative juices flowing. Some drive inspiration from checking out similar artworks or projects by the competition. Others come up with new ideas through troubleshooting and fixing the flaws in existing products.
Usually, we end up discarding the first and second iteration of an idea and usually it is on our third and fourth attempts when wheels of progress starts to turn. If all that fails, we switch to a totally different activity. We may grab a beer and watch a movie and let our brain work at it in the background. And as Escher puts it ‘best ideas emerge when you attempt the absurd!’
You had me at free beverages and now you’re tossing in beers and a movie? Are there any open job positions? I’m pretty sure I can run around the office buzzing like a bee!
Are there any lessons you’ve learned over the years that you can share with us?
We started this career in an era where there were no such startup hype everywhere. We learned a lot of lessons from the onset of our activities in a less cluttered landscape of startups to the overcrowded market we are faced with today. We had to overcome financial barriers, configuring a proper workspace, finding the right employees with the right skill set and above all finding reliable investors.
Are you inspired by anyone in particular and why?
Steve Jobs is at the top of the list for he was the trailblazer in mastering the art of using the design to reset the standards in so many fields – from entrepreneurship avenues to end use markets. Also, we admire Jony Ive for his exceptional aesthetic sense and functional ideas and Chris Coyier for his great teaching methodology with a beautifully simplified language.
Got any sweet nuggets of advice you can share with other authors on how to put together a dynamite portfolio?
Achieving perfection shouldn’t be the goal as much as bettering ourselves at what we do. It is time to avoid replicas and poorly executed copies of the same ideas over and over again.
Aiming to create a project that exceeds your own expectations would be a great starting point. If the end product does not surprise you first and the foremost, you will not have much of a chance impressing on a potential customer.
I would say check out the existing literature, explore portfolios, think outside the box and apply what you learn toward executing your original vision.
Great advice! If could pick three items on Envato Market that have inspired you, what would they be?
Do you do anything special to market your products?
We believe that the best marketing strategy for turning a product into a user-friendly hit is the product itself. If you can create a product that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but easy to use as well, you are halfway there.
Also, we have a big advantage over our rivals as the Envato marketplaces helps us with further exposure. Same goes with ThemeForest for the targeted exposure it creates through flocks of loyal customers.
Flocks of loyal customers. I like that. Now apart from yourself (of course!), who are your favorite Envato Market authors?
Kriesi for his programming skills and simple coding patterns and Orman Clark for his clean and well prepared portfolio themes. Keep on going guys! You are so inspiring and bloody good at what you do
I’m sure they’ll appreciate that! So when you’re not working, what kind of trouble do you get up to?
Keep working and trying to meet the deadlines! just kidding 😉 Our team members have different sets of hobbies; Reading books, video games, building legos, watching movies and documentaries.
Now you guys have to throw legos into the mix?! You’re killing me here!
So how you feel about this impressive milestone?
It was a great step of course. It means a lot to us and makes us kind of unstoppable We are proud that we hit a milestone as a member of a great community. Now we can continue even more confident than ever. But it is just the beginning of a great journey. Ahead of us, there we see many milestones that we have yet to hit. Currently we are working on next version of artbees.net attached with multiple new services that for sure will amaze you!
Thanks for speaking with us guys! And once again, congratulations on joining the rank of Power Elite!