CNBC make it – Melanie Perkins Interview
Melanie Perkins’ $3.2 billion design platform, Canva, is one of the world’s most valuable female-led start-ups. CNBC Make It’s Karen Gilchrist met with the 32-year-old Australian entrepreneur in Sydney to find out how she’s taking on tech giants Microsoft and Adobe.
About Melanie (Extract from open-source encyclopaedia, Wikipedia)
Melanie Perkins was born in Perth, Western Australia. She is the daughter of an Australian-born teacher and a Malaysian engineer of Filipino and Sri Lankan descent. She attended Sacred Heart College, a secondary school located in the northern Perth suburb of Sorrento. At high school, Perkins had aspirations of becoming a professional figure skater and would routinely wake up at 4:30 am to train. By the age of fourteen, she had started her first business, selling handmade scarves at shops and markets throughout Perth. She credits this experience with developing her entrepreneurial drive as ‘she never forgot the freedom and excitement from building a business.
After high school, Perkins enrolled at the University of Western Australia, majoring in communications, psychology and commerce. At this time, Perkins was also a private tutor for students learning graphic design. She noticed the difficulties students had in learning design programs such as Adobe Photoshop, where it would often take students a semester at university to be introduced to basic features of these complex design programs. Perkins thought there was a business opportunity in making the design process easier. Her idea was to make a design platform where no technical experience was required. She dropped out of university at age 19 to pursue her first business with Cliff Obrecht, Fusion Books.
Background to Canva (from open-source encyclopaedia, Wikipedia)
Canva is a graphic design platform, used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and other visual content. The app includes templates for users to use. The platform is free to use and offers paid subscriptions like Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise for additional functionality. Users can also pay for physical products to be printed and shipped.
In June 2020, Canva raised A$60 million at a valuation of A$6 billion; almost doubling its 2019 valuation. In September 2021, Canva raised USD $200 million and announced a valuation of USD $40 billion.
History of Canva (Source: Wikipedia)
Canva was founded in Perth, Australia, by Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams on January 1st, 2013. In its first year, Canva had more than 750,000 users. In April 2014, social-media and technology expert Guy Kawasaki joined the company as chief evangelist (brand promoter). In 2015, Canva for Work was launched, focusing marketing materials.
During the 2016–17 financial year, Canva’s revenue increased from A$6.8 million to A$23.5 million, with a loss of A$3.3 million. In 2017, the company reached profitability and had 294,000 paying customers.
In January 2018, Perkins announced that the company had raised A$40 million from Sequoia Capital, Blackbird Ventures, and Felicis Ventures, and the company was valued at A$1 billion.
During May 2019, the company raised another round of funding of A$70 million from General Catalyst and Bond and its existing investors Blackbird Ventures and Felicis Ventures, valuing Canva at A$2.5 billion.
In October 2019, Canva announced that it had raised an additional A$85 million at a valuation of A$3.2 billion, and launched an enterprise product.
In December 2019, Canva announced Canva for Education, a free product for schools and other educational institutions intended to facilitate collaboration between students and teachers.
In June 2020, Canva announced a partnership with FedEx Office and the following month with Office Depot. As of June 2020, Canva’s valuation had risen to A$6 billion. This valuation grew to A$40 billion in September 2021, with co-founders Melanie Perkins and Clifford Obrecht announcing they planned to give away much of their fortune to numerous philanthropic causes.
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