Canva raises $US15 million: Melanie Perkins reveals the next product and what’s important in growing a business

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Canva raises $US15 million: Melanie Perkins reveals the next product and what’s important in growing a business

Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins says she “absolutely” never imagined the day would come that Hollywood stars Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson would invest in her company.

But that’s exactly what’s happened.

“It’s so incredible to see the support from all pockets across the world,” Perkins told SmartCompany yesterday.

“It’s so encouraging.”

Harrelson and Wilson are among the investors to participate in Canva’s latest funding round, worth $US15 million ($21 million)

The round was led by Felicis Ventures, which was joined by existing investors Blackbird Ventures and Matric Partners. Other new investors include Vayner Capital, the investment arm of Gary Vaynerchuk.

The series A round brings Canva’s total capital raising to $US27.6 million since launching in 2012.

While Perkins keeps details about Canva’s revenue under wraps, the latest round of funding values the startup at $US165 million.

The Sydney-based graphic design business’s user base is growing at a rapid pace.

Canva now boasts more than 5 million users across 179 countries, with Perkins saying in a statement yesterday the company’s installed user base has doubled in four months.

And Perkins says more than 35,000 teams have signed up to use Canva for Work, the startup’s subscription service that was launched two months ago.

Perkins told SmartCompany was not intending to raise more capital but “we found an excellent partner in Felicis Ventures”.

“We’ll use this to help realise our product vision,” she says.

“We think we’ve only achieved 1% of what Canva can achieve.”

While Perkins says Canva for Work is “growing like crazy”, she is also focused on the business’s next product launch: a service for not-for-profit organisations called Canva for Good.

Perkins says Canva for Good will give not-for-profits free access to Canva for up to 10 users and the product will make it easier for Canva’s existing not-for-profit user base of around 180,000 users to make the most of the Canva platform.

“It’s really important for not-for-profits to be able to share their story using platforms like social media and we want to support that,” she says.

Canva for Good also speaks to Perkins’ belief that entrepreneurs should focus on “solving a really important problem” as opposed to the amount of cash they can raise.

“It shouldn’t become the goal,” Perkins says of scoring an investment deal.

“Addressing people’s problems is more important.”

“You might choose to bootstrap or raise investment if you need to ramp up quickly but the most important thing is actually… really addressing people’s needs.”

Perkins also urges other entrepreneurs to understand the importance of being “able to adapt and continue to grow” and to “learn on the go”.

“There’s now over 80 people in our team so I spend a lot more time communication,” she says.

In Canva’s early days, Perkins says she used to “help write the emails” that would be sent to the business’s first users.

She says getting involved in those tasks is now not as easy – especially given Canva’s fast-growing user base. But that’s where the Canva team comes in.

“It’s so important the people who are part of your team are really motivated about what to do and they believe in the vision,” she says.

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Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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