Melanie Perkins’s and Cliff Obrecht’s Australian startup Canva is now valued at $40 billion. Canva’s recent investment made co-founder Melanie Perkins the world’s richest self-made billionaire under the age of 40. Perkins turned a high school yearbook idea into a $40 billion business.
A teenage dream
Perkins was just 19 when she has first unboxed the idea. It was 2006 and she and Obrecht were studying at a university in Perth.
The teen would earn a small income on the side by educating other students about design programs. But students found the platforms proposed by the likes of Microsoft and Adobe “mad hard” and she sensed there must be a better way.
“People would have to spend an entire semester learning where the buttons were, and that seemed completely ridiculous,” Perkins told to media. “I thought that in the future it was all going to be online and collaborative and much, much simpler than these really hard tools.”
So she and Obrecht set to work making that concept a reality.
It’s just one idea to start a company but it’s entirely another to start one that competes with tech giants like Microsoft and Adobe.
But that’s accurately what Australian entrepreneur Melanie Perkins did when she developed this free-to-use, online design platform Canva to rival the tech 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.
The duo, who married back earlier this year, launched in 2013 but the co-founder and CEO Melanie Perkins and her team began working on Canva in 2012. The outlook behind it was comparatively easy, but the technology is not.
The Sydney-headquartered corporation is now worth $40 billion, giving Perkins and her co-founder and now- married; Cliff Obrecht, an estimated personal fortune of $5.9 billion. And to remember, it all began with a high school yearbook business.
With scarce resources and little industry knowledge behind them, the couple commenced small and created an online school catalog design business, Fusion Year Books, to test out their idea.
They launched a website for students to “collaborate and design their profile pages and articles.” The partners would then print the yearbooks and dispense them to schools across Australia.
Growing the team
Today, Canva is helping 60 million active users monthly from 190 countries. With a 2,000-person team, Canva will use the new funding to double its workforce in the next year. Alongside growing the team, Canva is also working on a new video editor and an offline mode.
“I think I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself. And I think that sort of internal locus of control has been pretty strong,” stated Perkins.
“So while the expectations around our company and what we’re expected to do is sort of increasing, that’s nothing on what I’ve got on myself!”
Canva expects to surpass $1 billion in annualized revenue by the end of 2021. More than 500,000 teams are paying for the product in some capacity.