How Canva’s Melanie Perkins Became Australia’s Youngest Billionaire And Third Richest Woman

Canva catapulted itself to tech stardom, competing with the likes of Microsoft and Adobe, all thanks to a Flipino-Australian, Melanie Perkins.

If you have not heard of Canva, it is online software that allows companies and individuals to comprehend design in a digestible way.

“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.

Canva’s humble beginnings started in 2013 when she realized that Adobe Suite was quite complicated. She created Canva in the efforts to make designing more accessible to everyone. Be it for logos, business cards, presentations for the classrooms, businesses, or marketing personnel. Within five years, she was named one of tech’s youngest female CEOs, at just 30.

Canva is currently valued at 3.2 billion dollars, giving Perkins and her co-founder and current fiancé, Cliff Obrecht, an estimated personal fortune of $900 million. It all started with a simple idea of a high school yearbook.

When Melanie was 19 as well as an aspiring designer, she noticed that students find it incredibly frustrating to use software programmes such as Adobe and Microsoft. She and her current fiancé, Obrecht decided to make their idea a reality, as they believe the future of design is collaborative.

With that idea in mind, the couple started small and created a website called “Fusion Books.” The website allows students to collaborate and design their yearbooks and deliver them schools across Australia.

However, a stroke of luck when they had a chance encounter with Bill Tai, a well-known venture capitalist who was mesmerized by their idea and introduced them to a few contacts in Silicon Valley. It wasn’t an easy networking session as Perkins soon find out. She had to learn to kitesurf quickly, as Bill Tai was an avid kitesurfing enthusiast.

However, it proved to be an investment as the start was winning the hearts of major investors and eventually building Canva’s design platform with their talented team of tech engineers.

By 2012, the Australian government has matched their initial $1.5 million investment to keep the design platform on Australian shores.

Today the company was a huge success, with plans to expand to Manila and Beijing and currently 85% of Fortune 500 companies have invested in her platform.  She is excited about her prospects and the challenges up ahead. Which goes to show, the most fruitful ideas are worthwhile and straightforward.

Source: CNBC / Photo Credit: 9 News Australia

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