How to design a unicorn

Melanie Perkins leads billion-dollar company Canva.

Canva: Graphic Design & Video

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All great app ideas come from people who want to solve an everyday problem. The idea for graphic design app Canva first came about when Melanie Perkins was a 19-year-old university student in Western Australia.

While helping other students navigate the basics of standard graphic design programs, Perkins was struck by how unnecessarily complicated they were. She envisioned a future where anyone could easily produce high-quality designs for everything from invitations and flyers to business cards. All it took was imagination.

Canva’s easy-to-use interface makes creating designs simple for all experience levels.

Imagining a brighter future

“The way I thought about it was: the future was definitely going to be different,” says Perkins. “It was going to be online, it was going to be collaborative and a lot simpler. So, it seemed inevitable that in the future design would be all of these things.”

Canva launched in 2013 and swiftly became the go-to design resource for individuals, businesses and not-for-profits.

The app’s simple interface encourages anyone to get stuck in. It’s an entire design ecosystem on one page, encompassing adaptable design templates, beautiful stock photography and an extensive font library in one.

The app is used by Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike.

As CEO of the business, Perkins is one of the youngest women to lead a ‘unicorn’ – the term for a billion dollar-valued business. But launching an industry-disrupting start-up didn’t happen overnight, it took a great deal of perseverance.

“Over the years working on Canva there have been people who didn’t believe in me or the company,” she tells us. “But I didn’t let it deter me. I just learnt what I could from their feedback and used it to make my pitches better and my strategy stronger.”

Democratising design

Canva aims to be accessible to everyone. To date, the platform is available in more than 100 languages and used in countries across the globe. A large percentage of Fortune 500 companies use Canva and it has also helped many small businesses get started with simple, quick and inexpensive designs.

Canva CEO Melanie Perkins is one of the youngest women to lead a unicorn business.

“One of the things I’m most proud of is that thousands of not-for-profits use Canvas not-for-profit programme,” says Perkins. “The stories we hear from them about Canva helping them to spread their message, raise funds and hit their really important goals are incredibly inspiring.”

What's next

Canva continues to innovate and Perkins is excited about the potential that the platform holds. Most recently, the app added a monthly subscription service called Canva for Work that gives users access to additional features such as Magic Resize and millions of premium images, icons and illustrations.

Making great things happen: the Canva team.

“I’ve always worked really hard, even when I was a child. It’s because I enjoy working towards a goal – I love taking an idea and turning it into reality.

“The more goals you set and accomplish, the feeling of confidence in your ability to achieve grows, and in-turn gives you the confidence to take on more ambitious challenges.”

    Canva: Graphic Design & Video

    Logo Card, Flyer Poster Maker