You’ve probably heard of Canva, the multimedia platform that allows you to create virtually everything: greeting cards, blog graphics, flyers, Facebook designs, you name it.
Canva’s CEO is now the youngest woman to be leading a $1 billion startup, 30-year-old Melanie Perkins.
As a 22-year-old Commerce and Communications college dropout, Perkins, who hails from Perth, Australia, spent 6 months in San Francisco, pitching the idea to investors and constantly dealing with rejection.
Perkins shared with Mashable.
“It’s still extremely early days for us yet, and we feel like we’ve done one percent of what we believe is possible but it’s quite exciting to get to this point in time, and it’s been a huge journey.”
Melanie started tampering with creating a platform when she was still living at her mother’s house. She became frustrated using design software during her university days, and decided to do something about it.
Alongside her partner Chris, Melanie created Fusion Books, which is a software to simply design yearbooks. After seeing how greatly successful Fusion Books had become, reaching number one in Australia and New Zealand, Melanie considered expanding the product to reach other forms of design.
In the early stages, the startup had only 250 employees, and very few believers.
“It was actually quite funny, the other day I was looking through some of the emails from early on and there were so many rejections in the early days, it was such a struggle to get things started.”
Bill Tai, technology investor and chairman of Treasure Data, met with Melanie in Palo Alto, California. He was on his phone the whole time, so she assumed he wasn’t interested in the idea. Turns out he loved it and invested in it, and went on to introduce Melanie to a new network of investors who would be interested in it, too.
A few years later, Google executive Cameron Adams joined Canva team, backing the project up with $3 million. According to BBC, Canva’s financials doubled within the past year, from $6.8 million to $23.5 million.
Right now, Canva reaches a national audience, with 10 million users on it as well as a new design every 10 seconds. It’s available in 179 countries.
By charging a fee to unlock all of its service tools, Canva was able to raise $82 million.
Melanie and her boyfriend Chris have held their positions as CEO and executive chairman for the company, continue to run Fusion Books, and yes, their relationship is still going strong.
“It was three years between first pitching to an investor and actually landing investment,” Melanie tells BBC, “This is an incredibly long period of time, and we had hundreds of rejections along the way.
Melanie’s story reminds us that anything is possible as long as you put the work in it.