Canva is a free graphic design platform that lets mass use professionally designed templates to create invitations, business cards, flyers, lesson plans, Zoom backgrounds, and more with free and affordable price plan.
Melanie Parker, 31 years old Australian outdid herself when she introduced Canva, a product that has grown to a stunning 1 million users churning out 7 million designs even since its launch.
The young founder founded the company in Australia in 2013 with the goal of making design accessible to everyone, whether for logos, business cards, or presentations. Within five years, she was making headlines as one of technology's youngest female CEOs, at the age of 30.
Two years on, the Sydney-headquartered company is now worth $3.2 billion, giving Perkins and her co-founder and now- fiance, Cliff Obrecht, an estimated personal fortune of $900 million. And to think about it, it all started with a high school yearbook business.
With few resources and little business experience behind them, the couple started small and created an online school yearbook design business, Fusion Books, to test out their idea.
Melanie's mom was a teacher. She could see how much time and effort her mom put into each yearbook. Melanie & Cliff decided to make software called Fusion books that made yearbook creation easier. The software would be free & schools would pay for printed yearbook copies.
They launched a website for students to “collaborate and design their profile pages and articles.” The pair would then print the yearbooks and deliver them to schools across Australia. In which this software is a tipping point for company to build canva.
The teen would earn a little income on the side by teaching other students design programs. But students found the platforms offered by the likes of Microsoft and Adobe “crazy hard” and she felt there must be a better way.
Not to mention founders had Zero Silicon Valley connections, No technical background, 100+ investor rejections. What they did have were only product-market fit and an ambitious vision.
Melanie eventually raised $1.6 million in 2012 from angels like Bill & Lars and venture capital firms like Blackbird, Matrix, and InerWest Partners. They also received a $1.4 million grant from the Australian government, bringing their total seed funding to $3 million.
Simplify designing for everyone
Canva is an online design and publishing tool with a mission to empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere.
Founder taught Design at The University of Western Australia in 2006, she found design software clunky and difficult to use. "Students would take a whole semester just learning where the buttons were and how to design something."
“I thought that in the future it was all going to be online and collaborative and much, much simpler than these really hard tools.” Perkins told CNBC Make It. So she and her co-founder set to work making that vision a reality.
Canva Inspiration and Expansion
In October 2019, an $85 million funding round led by Silicon Valley investor Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital gave the company a valuation of $3.2 billion. Perkins said she plans to use the additional funding to expand the team of 700 across Sydney, Beijing and Manila, while also building out the company’s paid services, Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise.
That strategy will bring Perkins the closest she’s come yet to competing directly with the professional design tools created by tech giants like Microsoft and Adobe.
But with 85% of Fortune 500 companies already using her platform, the young founder says she’s up for the challenge.