Updated: Apr 17
Melanie Perkins is the co-founder and CEO of Canva, a graphic design platform that allows anyone to create stunning visuals with ease. Canva has over 60 million monthly active users across 190 countries, and is valued at $3.2 billion as of June 2020.
But how did Perkins go from a college student with a passion for design to a successful entrepreneur leading one of the world's fastest-growing tech companies? Here are some key lessons from her journey:
- Start with a problem. Perkins was frustrated by the complexity and cost of traditional design software, which made it inaccessible for most people. She wanted to create a tool that would democratize design and empower anyone to express their creativity. She started by launching Fusion Books, an online platform that allowed students to design their own yearbooks, in 2007.
- Find a co-founder. Perkins met Cliff Obrecht, her co-founder and now fiancé, at university. They shared a vision for making design simple and fun, and worked together on Fusion Books. They later joined forces with Cameron Adams, a former Google engineer and designer, who became the third co-founder and chief product officer of Canva.
- Seek mentorship and funding. Perkins and Obrecht realized that they needed to scale their idea beyond yearbooks and create a global platform for design. They applied to various startup accelerators and competitions, and eventually got accepted into Y Combinator, one of the most prestigious programs in Silicon Valley. They also pitched to dozens of investors and secured funding from prominent names like Felicis Ventures, Blackbird Ventures, and Sequoia Capital.
- Build a great product and team. Perkins and her co-founders focused on building a product that was easy to use, intuitive, and beautiful. They also hired talented engineers, designers, marketers, and customer support staff who shared their vision and values. They launched Canva in 2013, and quickly gained traction among users who loved its simplicity and versatility.
- Keep innovating and expanding. Canva has continued to grow and evolve over the years, adding new features, templates, integrations, languages, and products. It has also expanded its user base from individuals to businesses, nonprofits, educators, and students. It has become a global brand that empowers millions of people to create amazing designs every day.
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Melanie Perkins is an inspiring example of how passion, perseverance, and partnership can lead to success. She has built a $3.2 billion-dollar company that is changing the world of design for the better.
Melanie Perkins on Forbes Magazine December 31, 2019