Hope everyone is keeping healthy and with an abundance of things to do this week!
With all this free time on your hands, it’s almost natural to pick up some new hobbies or skills, with online content soaring these past couple of weeks. Those of you who incorporate online design platforms into your craft might have come across the holy- grail that is Canva. With many entrepreneurs using the platform for the bare bones of their pitch- deck.
Co- Founded by Australian tech icon, Melanie Perkins, Canva now boasts a valuation of $4.7 billion. Let’s have a deep-dive into Canva’s beginnings and how Perkins earned her spot on Forbes’ ‘Top under 30 of the decade’ alongside the likes of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg and Instagram Co- Founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.
So how did the idea come about?
At age 19, Melanie was studying with her Co- Founder (and now fiancé) Cliff Obrecht at The University of Western Australia, where they were both teaching other students design programs.An underlying problem which their students encountered was that the existing design platforms, like Adobe and Microsoft, were too difficult to work with.
“People would have to spend an entire semester learning where the buttons were, and that seemed completely ridiculous… I thought that in the future it was all going to be online and collaborative and much, much simpler than these really hard tools”– CNBC Make It
She then decided to create the platform, with her design partner and Co- Founder, with the aim to make online design widely accessible.
Like many other start- ups, Canva started off with a slightly different premise, as well as a different name- Fusion Books. This was an online school yearbook design business for students to collaborate and design their profile pages and articles.
Once the yearbooks were completed online, Perkins and Obrecht would print off the yearbooks and deliver them to schools all across Australia. After an initial success, the business still runs to this day and laid the foundations for what we now know as Canva.
Their Big Silicon Valley break
During a 2010 conference in Perth, Melanie had a run- in with Silicon Valley investor Bill Tai, where he soon after invited her to San Francisco to pitch her idea.
“I thought that he didn’t really like what I had to say. He was on his phone, and I thought that meant he wasn’t really engaged in what I had to say about the future of publishing. But then I got home and realized that he was actually introducing me to a few people.”
Before long, Perkins and Obrecht were winning over big investment deals and growing out their team of tech engineers.
Nothing could have compared them, however, for the great success that 2012 had to bring. With the help of Lars Rasmussen, their Tech Advisor and Co- Founder of Google Maps, they managed to find Canva’s Tech Co- Founder, Cameron Adams, and Tech Developer, Dave Hearnden.
A mere couple of months later, Perkins and Obrecht closed their first round of funding amounting to a whopping $1.5 million which was even matched by the Australian government with the aim to keep the company on the Australian continent.
One year later, Canva went live providing its subscribers a platform for their creativity. To date, it has an impressive archive of 2 billion designs in 190 countries around the world.
In the past year alone, it has raised $225 million across two funding rounds, with one round being led by Silicon Valley investor Mary Meeker, who gave the company a valuation of $3.2 billion.
With plans to use this funding to expand the team, Canva will most likely be used as a direct substitute for the professional design tools created by tech giants like Microsoft and Adobe in the future.
“I think I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself. And I think that sort of internal locus of control has been pretty strong. So while the expectations around our company and what we’re expected to do is sort of increasing, that’s nothing on what I’ve got on myself!”
Melanie’s consistent work-ethic demonstrates how she has secured a spot on the Forbes‘ 30 Under 30 ‘class of 2016’ when she was just 28 years old.
However, it is clear to see that she doesn’t use her accolades to motivate her, but rather her desire to solve genuine niche problems. This is surely a lesson for aspiring entrepreneurs to keep in mind for when they are building their brands.
Keep the desire to provide value to your customers at the centre of what you do…