Startup News & Analysis

Canva’s Melanie Perkins on running the coolest tech company in Australia

Dinushi Dias /

Canva has been named Australia’s coolest tech company to work for by Job Advisor.

The competition, now its third year running, also named Envato the coolest company for promoting diversity, Splend the coolest small business and WorldFirst as Australia’s coolest finance company.

Rising stars 99Designs, SocietyOne and Driveyello were also among the finalists.

While awards like these are great, Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins says it’s important to remember what lies at the heart of all these businesses.

“Often competitions like these focus on perks,” Perkins tells StartupSmart.

“And while a lot of people say Canva has a lot of perks, describing them as perks doesn’t really explain why we put so much effort into creating a great culture and place to work.”

Perkins says there some basic principles a startup can live by to achieve the unimaginable. Here are two of them.

Raise the standards, not the rules

To build a team that’s united by a culture of collaboration, creativity and productivity, Perkins says it’s important to set the bar at high standards instead of strict rules.

“Creating a good team culture is about creating a place where everyone loves coming to work,” she says.

“This means we don’t have any rules for the sake of having rules, we have high standards and we care about each other and enjoy hanging out together.”

Culture can’t be bought, it’s created and nurtured

Over the past three years, Canva’s rapid growth into a company worth nearly half a billion dollars with more than 10 million users and 130 team members has meant a lot of has changed for what used to be a tiny startup.

But one thing has remained, says Perkins.

“We had the same culture when we were in my mum’s living room with my first company with no budget at all,” she says.

“Culture isn’t about fancy lunches – yes, we do now have amazing chefs – but it’s about having lunch together as a team, even if it’s just having left overs!”

Perkins says there is a great misconception about the financial cost of building good culture and teams.

“Culture is about how you treat people, which doesn’t cost a thing,” she says.

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Dinushi Dias

Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.

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