Canva’s Melanie Perkins on how she’s built a brand valued at $3.6 billion | #470

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We catch up with Canva founder Melanie Perkins who surely has to be one of Australia’s great young entrepreneurial success stories! 32 years-old and from Western Australia, Melanie Perkins created the online design tool Canva, and it just got valued at $3.6B.And what’s particularly exciting is she’s created something that every single one of us small business owners needs. Want to know how she did it? Me too!

A little bit more about Canva founder Melanie Perkins ...

In 2006, Melanie Perkins was a troubled 19 year-old teenager.

Not by the usual stuff that troubled most people of that age. Oh no … something much more serious.

Melanie was troubled by the fact that desktop publishing software (like Adobe, CorelDraw and Photoshop) was so complicated and hard to use.

So, like any young smart entrepreneur would, she set about coming up with a simple, elegant solution … starting small by launching a website to make yearbook design easy.

That business was a huge success, and following an unexpected meeting with a venture capitalist, she found herself in a position to pursue her original idea and the chance to take on software industry giants like Adobe and Microsoft.

Fast forward to today, and 32 year-old Melanie’s online design platform called Canva, has recently been valued at $3.6B, employs over 600 staff who have no working hours or dress code, has over 15 million clients … and here’s the interesting bit … she thinks her and her team have only scratched the surface of what’s possible.

I visited Melanie in Canva’s new inner-Sydney 7-story office which resembles something more of an oversized cubby house for millennials, complete with a very cool rooftop garden, full commercial kitchen pumping out two home-cooked meals a day, a very funky, well-stocked bar that, and all types of meeting booths and rooms and pods full of those previously mentioned millennials getting stuff done.

“I hadn’t planned to go to San Francisco. But when I did, I got two meetings … one with a leading venture capitalist, and another with the creator of Google Maps!" -Melanie Perkins, Canva

Here’s what caught my attention from my chat with Canva founder Melanie Perkins:

  1. I love the fact that despite being an introvert, she’s willing to step out of her comfort zone and put herself in positions where she may fail, but just as likely succeed beyond her wildest dreams. The willingness to learn kit-surfing and then get the opportunity to pitch at the kitesurfing conference is a great example of this.
  2. I love the fact that Melanie got the business idea right by testing it on the high school yearbook niche, before taking it out to the broader market.
  3. And I love the fact that she’s focused on creating an exceptionally amazing product that’s resulted in tens of thousands of blog posts, YouTube reviews and now podcast interviews about it. What changes could you make to your offering to make it the world's best?

“In those early days, I was working out of a food court near Silicon Valley!” -Melanie Perkins, Canva

Melanie Perkins Interview Transcription

Tim

Melanie Perkins welcome to the small business big marketing show.

Melanie

Thank you so much for having me.

Tim

Now I've just got to get the fanboy alert out of the way up front. So it's all out in the open. Okay. I love Canva and I've loved Canva for a long time. So I'm pretty excited to do this interview. And I love it because of what the solution it offers my listeners small business owners so elegantly. And just recently I interviewed James Chin Moody from Sendle another business that I think has a great solution. Very elegant to a problem. There's so much going on here it's just very exciting. So fanboy out of the way and we'll get on with it.

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