Melanie Perkins is the CEO of Canva, an online graphic designing tool that she co-founded while at The University of Western Australia. She was only 19, teaching fellow students design programs to earn some income. However, the entrepreneur was frustrated that it took an entire semester for the students to do the simplest tasks related to designing. Armed with a business idea of simplifying graphic designing, she and her boyfriend started her company from her mother’s lounge. Despite lacking the marketing experience or connections to get the seed capital, Melanie’s business took off with time. Today, the 32-year-old is the youngest billionaire in Australia. You most probably have never heard of her, so here are ten facts to enlighten you about her entrepreneurial journey.
1. She Wanted To Be a Professional Figure Skater
Melanie hoped to be a professional figure skater thus attended competitive ice skating training sessions since she was nine until the age of 15. She would wake up as early as 4.30 am daily to attend the lessons, and although she has not realized her childhood dream, it helped prepare her for the future that awaited her. The entrepreneur believes that ice skating enabled her to be disciplined and taught her perseverance.
2. She Learnt How To Kitesurf to meet with Potential Investors
When Melanie learned that Bill Tai, a multi-millionaire venture capitalist from Silicon Valley, was going to Perth as a judge of a startup competition, the Canva CEO knew it was her chance to get some capital for her business idea. Unfortunately, to attend the kiteboarding and entrepreneurship event, one also had to know how to kiteboard, so she learned the skill. Therefore, Melanie and Cliff pitched to all the potential investors, but as one investor told Forbes, it was not an impressive pitch. However, Bill Tai was impressed and invested in Canva eventually.
3. It Took Three Years after Pitching to Get Funding
We watch how heartbroken those who pitch on “Shark Tank” walk out of the room when none of the millionaires show interest in their startups. The same thing happened to Melanie and her co-founder, but her case was worse; her business idea was rejected more than 100 times, but she never lost hope. The rejection fueled her determination, and at one time, she recalls waking up at 4.30 am to catch a train to Silicon Valley to meet with prospective investors. Fortunately, after continuous pitching, her first check came three years after the first pitch, and before long in 2012 and early 2013, the business had raised $3 million in seed capital.
4. She Tries Hard To Get Enough Rest
For someone who was used to early mornings and now as the CEO of a billion-dollar company who has to work late into the night, Melanie barely has enough time to sleep. She told Vogue that although she still finds herself working on weekends, she tries to have Saturdays and most Sundays off. Melanie added that she has a goal of getting 8 hours of sleep at least 20 days in a month and even marks off the specific days on the calendar.
5. Her Tips for Success
It is incredible what Melanie has achieved through her persistence; thus, the best advice she can give to prospective entrepreneurs is always to have faith in their ideas. She explained that she experienced a lot of negativity along the way, but that never stopped her from pursuing her business. Melanie adds that for any business to be successful, it must exist to solve a problem. Finally, the Canva CEO is against those who advise us to “go big or go home;” she opines that one should start with a niche market before going for a larger market.
6. Canva is Her Third Business
Melanie has an entrepreneurial spirit that dates back to when she was a child. According to Entrepreneur, she founded her first business at 14 when she sold handmade scarves. Her interest in designing led to her establishing her second business, Fusion Books, after seeing how students struggled with design software. Fusion Books enabled students to create their yearbooks, and with its success, Melanie and Cliff founded her second company, Canva.
7. She Had To Cancel Her Wedding Due To COVID-19
Melanie and Cliff have been together for over a decade, and it is during their time in university that they became business partners. With a history that has undoubtedly been plagued with many ups and downs, Cliff could no longer wait to spend the rest of his life with Melanie; therefore, he proposed to her in Turkey. Unfortunately, the pandemic disrupted their plans, and she had to cancel their wedding.
8. Her Engagement Ring was worth $30
Despite Melanie being worth over a billion dollars, her engagement ring cost only $30. According to the couple, their wealth is for the greater good; hence they live modestly. They want to break the cycle of poverty by educating the underprivileged and focus their energy on more noble causes such as the global health system.
9. She Dropped Out of University to Focus on Business
When Melanie Perkins attended the University of Western Australia, starting a business was the last thing in her mind. However, an opportunity presented itself as she taught students some basic design skills. It was cumbersome, even trying to save a design in PDF format, so Melanie thought about making it easier for the students. She began the graphics design software business with a tax rebate of $5,000, and they made their first sale the next year. Sales grew to 15 in the first year, doubled in the second, and by the third year, the number was 80. Juggling her studies and business was a challenge, so Melanie chose to drop out and concentrate on her business.
10. She is Australia’s Third Richest Woman
Melanie has gone from borrowing from chasing investors to fund her business, to being the third richest woman in her home country, Australia. Her company Canva is now worth $8.6 billion, while Melanie’s net worth has grown to $1.3 billion, making her the youngest richest woman in Australia. The titles of the richest and second women go to Gina Rinehart and Vicky Teoh.
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Written by Allen Lee
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