Canva gets physical with ‘Canva Print’ to cement US foothold

Canva founders

The founders of design startup unicorn Canva. Source: Supplied

Graphic design startup Canva is expanding into new territory by moving from purely digital to physical offerings with the launch of “Canva Print”, a feature that provides print and delivery services to complement the startup’s existing graphic design templates.

More than 2.5 million printable designs are downloaded monthly from the platform, but until now Canva users had to go through the headache of getting their designs printed themselves. This latest offering sees Canva partnering with print suppliers across the globe to provide users their finished designs within a four-day turnaround time. 

Listen to your users

Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins says the team “decided it was time” to offer printing services after being inundated with customer requests to offer the service.

“Our vision has always been to enable people to take their idea and turn it into their design in its final form,” she told StartupSmart.

“The team has been working hard to perfect the user experience and make it seamless … you’ll be able to stay within the Canva ecosystem from end to end.”

Expanding Canva’s US market share

Canva Print has been in the works for over a year and officially launched today in the US — a market that makes up the majority of the startup’s 10 million-strong user base, which is spread across 172 countries. The service will be available in Australia, Europe, Japan and Brazil “later” this year. 

Canva’s new offerings seek to disrupt the incumbent printing industry, which was valued at $9 billion in the US alone. It’s biggest competitor, Vistaprint, had an annual revenue of $1.78 billion in 2016, according to the company’s most recent financial report. 

Over the past three years, Canva has raised $US42 million in funding from investors such as Blackbird Ventures, 500 Startup’s Dave McClure, and Hollywood stars Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson, and was valued at $458 million in September 2016.

While the startup keeps its financial details under wraps, Perkins says the startup has become “cash-flow positive this year”.

“Start niche and go wide”: Canva’s strategy for growth

For startup founders looking to expand their core offerings, Perkins advises taking the time to know your market and fully develop your existing product.

“One of our philosophies from the early days was to start niche and go wide,” she says.

“Ten years ago we had a broad vision for the future of design — instead of trying to take on everything at the same time, we decided to start by taking on school yearbooks.”

By taking on a niche industry at the outset, the Canva team were “conscious not to go too broad too quickly” and instead got to know their market and its pain points intimately, says Perkins. 

“It’s better to satisfy someone’s needs well than everyone’s needs halfheartedly,” she says.

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