Melanie's first ventures
Melanie’s journey with entrepreneurship began at the tender age of 14.
She began selling handmade scarves in shops throughout Perth.
According to her, this experience was a major catalyst in pushing her toward the track of building her own business.
Identifying the problem
When Melanie was in college, she also became a private tutor for students in graphic design.
While tutoring, she observed that tools like Adobe Photoshop were clunky and unnecessarily complex.
She recognized an opportunity to simplify such applications.
Fusion Books: Melanie’s first startup!
Aged 19, Melanie dropped out of college to start her first venture ‘Fusion Books’.
Fusion Books was to be a testing ground for the idea that would eventually become Canva.
Fusion Books focused on a niche category- high school yearbooks.
It equipped students with simple tools with which they could collaborate.
Hunting for investors
Within the next few years, Fusion Books became the biggest platform in Australia in its niche category.
After its success, Melanie set her sights on bigger things i.e Canva.
But finding an investor was hard.
Melanie and Cliff were rejected by around 100 investors in Perth.
Someone who understood the vision
But Bill Tai, a prominent venture capitalist decided to hear them out.
Although Tai did not invest in their idea, he introduced Melanie to Lars Rasmussen, the founder of Google Maps.
Lars understood Melanie’s vision of accessible design and real-time collaborative editing.
Found the investors!
However, Lars only joined the business as a tech advisor.
His first advice was to pause all operations till they recruited a tech team with the required calibre.
Even Bill Tai agreed to invest if the team was approved by Lars.
Finding the right team
Recruiting the right team was a circuitous task for Melanie and Cliff.
Lars kept rejecting each profile that was sent his way as they wouldn’t meet his standards.
Fortunately, Melanie found the perfect fit with Cameron Adams who became the tech co-founder.
Secured the funds, time for development!
After getting the right people, Melanie also managed to secure $3 million in seed funding.
Now that they had all the money they needed, the team worked hard in product development till it was launched later in the year.
Canva’s launch and growth!
After the first year of its operations, Canva had 1 million users using its platform.
A couple of years later in 2015, the platform’s user count had grown to 4 million users.
By 2017, Canva became profitable - with its 297,000 paying customers.
Skyrocketing to $40B valuation!
In 2020, Canva had a $6 billion valuation.
That number changed in the next year, when it raised $200 million at a $40 billion valuation.
Being one of the few unicorn startups that is actually profitable, Canva can easily be considered one of the world’s most valuable companies.