Innovative Businesses: Canva

Innovative Businesses: Canva

From Startup to Global Phenomenon: The Inspiring Story of Canva

No matter the industry you’re in, if you’re a student or just curious about design, it’s likely that if you’ve been tasked with a project that requires some visual flair, you’ve heard of Canva. It’s the online website that allows anybody to design EVERYTHING.

The Australian startup by powerhouse Melanie Perkins, a Forbes listed 30-under-30 in technology, has a unique and inspiring story from humble beginnings.

As we roll into 2020, Canva celebrates 15 million users across 90 countries, seeing 33 designs created per second. Ticking all of the boxes of the innovative business checklist, we discuss our top reasons for loving Canva:

Understanding The Need Recognition:

Co-founder, Melanie Perkins was only in her very early 20s when she felt the gap in the market for design software that was not only accessible to anyone but easier to use than the traditional graphic design software available at the time. She found that the software could take months to learn even the most basic of commands (i.e. exporting a high-quality PDF document could take 22 clicks!).

This was the catalyst for her and her co-founder, Cliff Obrecht, launching an online design website as she could already see that the future of design was all going to be online, collaborative and straightforward.

We love that she saw the opportunity to transform lives, took it and turned it into a multimillion-dollar business!


This then saw the Canva founder flying across the globe to meet with potential investors, hoping that someone would believe in her mission. Things did not happen as quickly as expected; it took Melanie 3 years before Canva was actually launched. It was finally backed by venture capitalists, and the duo found themselves another co-founder, Cameron Adams – former Google Executive.

The now multi-millionaire, Melanie often comments about how she has those three years to thank for the execution of Canva, as potential investors told her no hundreds of time. Instead of getting bogged down in feelings of failure, she took on board everything she was told and used it to continually refine the pitch and execute the strategy to the highest level. The hard work, dedication and sacrifice required to withstand the industry through those years were not for the faint-hearted, but boy did it pay off for her!

Today, more than 500 people work for Canva across the globe, with headquarters based in Sydney, Manilla and San Francisco. Canva is still only getting started.

Believing In Your ‘Why’:

In an interview with Forbes, Melanie states that early on the vision was ’empowering the world to design’. Canva is a place someone can default to, so the focus is on refining and continuing to perfect a simple and intuitive design tool; the goal is to enable the whole world to design.

Canva has over 25,000 non-profit organisations around the world using their non-profit program, which encourages the organisations to create designs to spread their message and fundraise. The entire team is constantly inspired to continue developing the company as they can see the impact they’re having on so many lives.

Always Look Forward:

The hard work isn’t over for Melanie and the rest of the team; she explains that they’ve learnt so much but are on their way to tackling a much larger problem: empowering everyone to design anything. Continuing to make design accessible and FUN for people without a design background is where Canva will continue to traject, as they truly understand that the world is rapidly becoming more visual, and design is important in every walk of life.

WorkPlan is here to support you with our business programs and engagement platforms. We want to help you keep your staff engaged and motivated with a forward-thinking mindset. If you would like to foster a more innovative culture within your organisation, get in touch with us today!

ALSO READ: Innovative Businesses: Atlassian


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