E-commerce network co-founder crowned Victorias top business woman

Media Release, 21 October 2015

A young Melbourne mother who has helped millions around the world share their creative products and services online has been crowned the 2015 Telstra Victoria Business Woman of the Year.

Cyan Ta’eed is co-founder of Envato, an online platform she describes as an eco-system of websites to help people get creative. A graphic designer by trade, she originally founded the site at age 25 with her husband and close friend in order to give them the freedom to travel the world while earning a living.

Now based in Melbourne, Envato has five and a half million members worldwide, 180 staff working in its headquarters, and has distributed an impressive US$300 million to its freelance sellers. According to Ms Ta’eed, Envato’s most successful site, ThemeForest, is currently ranked as the 88th most trafficked website in the world.

Ms Ta’eed also won the Entrepreneur Award at the 21st annual Telstra Victoria Business Women’s Awards at Crown Melbourne tonight.

Passionate about company culture, Ms Ta’eed is a believer of setting goals with meaningful purpose and providing her team with the transparency, trust, empathy and opportunity to experiment.

“We have a real culture of ‘work with purpose’ at Envato, so I encourage people to make the right decision, as opposed to the profitable decision,” she said.

“As a woman leading, I hope to also encourage other women to aim for positions of leadership. Technology in particular needs more women in leadership to make real cultural change.”

Telstra Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Award Ambassador, Kate McKenzie, said Ms Ta’eed and all the Victorian winners had achieved impressive results in their respective areas of business.

“The 2015 Victoria winners are brilliant business women who are passionate, courageous and are willing to challenge the accepted way of doing things.”

Ms McKenzie said the Telstra Awards judges praised Ms Ta’eed’s ability to successfully grow a unique community platform while still dedicating a significant amount of her to time to social progress.

“Cyan has built an incredible network around the world which puts people in touch with specialist digital services and sellers. Not only this, but she puts a lot of effort into diversity in the workplace, invests money back into the community and volunteers her time to help disadvantaged women and children.”

Tonight’s Telstra Victoria Business Women’s Awards winners come from industries as diverse as fitness, conservation, health and international business. Colette McShane received the Start-Up Award for her innovative workouts aimed at mums, which has led her to a client base of more than 400 at the HIIT Factory in Melbourne, while the Corporate and Private Award went to Rohini Kappadath, Director of Cross-Border Business at Pitcher Partners and a sought-after media commentator on international business.

The Young Business Women’s Award was picked up by Alicia Stephenson for her baby-friendly gym, Active Playgroup, the Government and Academia Award went to VicHealth CEO, Jerril Rechter for her extensive leadership experience across government and the not-for-profit sector, and Jean Thomas took home the For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award for her outstanding work at the Tenkile Conservation Alliance (TCA), leading community projects to help over 12,000 people in the Torricelli Mountain Range.

The Victoria winners will proceed to the national finals in Melbourne on Wednesday 18 November.

2015 Telstra Victoria Business Woman of the Year

Cyan Ta’eed, Envato, Melbourne

Start-Up Award
Colette McShane, The HIIT Mum, Melbourne
While pregnant with her daughter Isla, Colette McShane decided to put her passion for fitness into a business by creating The HIIT Mum. Two years later, Colette has 400 clients attending weekly classes at The HIIT Factory in Melbourne, and hundreds of thousands of online followers. She has also co-authored e-books that offer well-balanced meal plans. Her natural entrepreneurial flair struck a chord with the judges.

Entrepreneur Award
Cyan Ta’eed, Envato, Melbourne

For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award
Jean Thomas, Tenkile Conservation Alliance, Don Valley
A former high school science teacher, Jean Thomas moved to a remote Papua New Guinea mountain range to protect a critically-endangered tree kangaroo species. Since joining the Tenkile Conservation Alliance she has assisted 50 villages and 12,000 people in the mountain range by building the capacity and confidence of 16 local leaders. Noting her humility, the judges praised her ability to work in a collaborative partnership with the community without imposing on it.

Government and Academia

Jerril Rechter, Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), Melbourne
Jerril Rechter is the CEO of VicHealth, which conducts vital research to advance the health of Victoria’s population. With extensive experience in leadership across government and the not-for-profit sectors, Jerril is also a Ministerial appointment to the Liquor Control Advisory Council and the Inquiry into Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation’s Advisory Panel, as well as the Chair of Victoria's Justice Health Ministerial Council. The judges admired her tenacious attitude when challenging the norm and her bigger picture outlook.

Corporate and Private Award
Rohini Kappadath, Pitcher Partners, Melbourne
Rohini Kappadath has a career spanning 28 years in the information technology industry and has operated her own international consulting business. As director of Cross-Border Business at Pitcher Partners she is responsible for the international strategy for the firm and its clients and is at the forefront of the Asian engagement space as a thought leader and practitioner. The judges were impressed with the breadth of Ms Kappadath’s career and her extensive knowledge of international business.

Young Business Women’s Award
Alicia Stephenson, Active Playgroup, Ringwood
Alicia Stephenson is founder and director of Active Playgroup, a fitness group for mothers and their children. After working in a women’s prison, Alicia became interested in women’s mental and physical health. She wanted to start a business that was informal, fun and relaxed and made a difference to women’s lives. Active Playgroup has 150 members with more than 300 children. Her ability to expand her vision quickly and her community mindedness were noted by the judges.

More information on the Telstra Business Women’s Awards can be found at www.womensawards.com.