From zero to half a billion: Canva’s Melanie Perkins on their biggest lesson to date
Wednesday, November 23, 2016/
Over the past three years, Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins has led her venture through one of the most radical growth trajectories Australia’s startup sector has seen.
In addition to a valuation of more than $450 million, Canva’s team is now 100 plus strong and its platform is used by people all around the world.
It was even named one of Australia’s coolest companies to work for by Job Advisor.
Reflecting on her journey to date, Perkins tells StartupSmart that one of the most important lessons she has picked up through it all is the importance of scaling leadership and communication as they’ve grown.
“Different stages of a business [require] very different types of leadership,” Perkins says.
“When there were just a few of us at the beginning, we’d be spread thin across every aspect of the company, leadership was working really hard to make sure we were able to meet our goals to make sure our company stayed alive.”
With the people power of more than 100, Perkins says their understanding and approach to leadership has been significantly transformed.
The new challenge being to ensure that all hands on deck are rowing in the same direction.
“It’s still essential there is a clear picture of where we are trying to go but I have to direct most of my time to helping our team to make great decisions,” she says.
“Good communication is one of the most important aspects of being a good leader.
“There are so many aspects of a company to navigate – the prevention and cure for most issues is communication.”
The shift from a team of three to more than 100 has also meant scaling the way Perkins and her leadership team communicates with all staff.
“When there were just a few of us sitting around one table, everyone always knew what everyone else was working on,” she says.
To ensure the Canva team stay engaged, motivated and connected on this journey, Perkins says she runs weekly meetings to keep everyone up to date with the big vision and trends the company is competing in.
She also uses these weekly team catch-ups to give everyone a chance to promote and support each other’s contributions to the venture.
“On Mondays, our teams have team meetings and on Fridays we do a team standup where everyone shows off what they have been working on,” she says.
From the frontlines
A leaf out of Israel's book: Australia needs to step up, or risk falling further behind Anthony Aarons Epifini co-founder
'Few are destined to be unicorns': When is the right time to sell your startup? Peter Forbes HROnboard founder
CX versus UX: What's the difference, and why does it matter? Tom Uhlhorn Tiny CX founder
How augmented reality can motivate and assist employees to develop their skills Alexander Roche Androgogic founder
Forget gender quotas: It's time to review your definition of diversity Inga Latham SiteMinder chief product officer
How to assemble a board of directors that will make, not break, your startup Mark Rohald Cluey Learning co-founder