Canva: A $3.2 billion business stemmed from a high school yearbook idea

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Canva: It’s one thing to establish a business. It’s another thing entirely to launch a company that competes with big giants like Adobe and Microsoft. But that’s precisely what Melanie Perkins, an Australian entrepreneur, did when she created a design product to compete the internet giants.

“Our goal was to take the entire design ecosystem, integrate it into one page, and then make it accessible to the whole world,” said Perkins.

With over 2 billion designs, used by the majority of Fortune 500 companies and sponsored by celebrities such as Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson. Canva has made a major impact in the tech industry and ready to take up the challenge of competing with the tech giants like Microsoft and Adobe.

About Canva:

          Canva is a free-to-use, online design platform for designing logos, business cards or presentations. The seeds of the company were sown by Cameron Adams, Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht in 2013.

Starting small:

A young Australian entrepreneur Melanie Perkins, focused on the idea of building a design product, was initially started small.

“My mum’s living room became my office, and my boyfriend became my business partner, and we started enabling schools to create their yearbooks really, really simply,” explained Perkins.

She also said,

“People would have to spend an entire semester learning where the buttons were, and that seemed completely ridiculous,” Perkins told CNBC Make It. “I thought that in the future it was all going to be online and collaborative and much, much simpler than these really hard tools.”

Hence she along with her boyfriend Obrecht, with little business experience and with limited resources they first started Fusion Books to simplify the complex tools used for design. Students would design their articles and pages which were printed and delivered across Australia by the two.

Perkins was just 19 years old when she had the concept. In 2006, she and Obrecht were both students at the University of Western Australia in Perth. Students, on the other hand, found Microsoft and Adobe’s platforms “extremely hard,” and she believed there had to be a better approach.

Raising Investment:

Melanie Perkins and her spouse Cliff Obrecht met renowned California venture capitalist Bill Tai at one of his kitesurfing getaways for start-ups and investors on the west coast of Australia. They persuaded him, and Tai, along with main backer Bill Bartee of Sydney’s Blackbird Ventures, were early investors and allies.

Canva’s easy-to-use software design, as well as the charm and perseverance of the Australian co-founders, won them over.

Canva routinely upgrades its graphic design tools to keep up with a new age, such as integrating social media and TikTok to its templates. Canva released a video production suite last year to make it easier to edit and post films. Its presentation software was also updated to include video features, allowing clients to transform their presentations into videos and vice versa with a single click. This functionality is useful for things like pitch decks, holiday cards, and photo editing.

Success in Numbers:

As a result of this growth, the Canva community now has over 75 million monthly users globally. The business, which is currently headquartered in Sydney, has translated its design material into 100 languages. Canva bought two European start-ups last year: visual AI platform Kaleido and visual AI platform Canva.

Perkins wants to use the new funds to grow the company’s 700-strong staff in Sydney, Beijing, and Manila, as well as extend Canva’s premium offerings, Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise.

Key focus:

The founders’ attention on brand image has always been a highlight, a consumer magnet, and a design and strategy award winner.

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