About Speaker Melanie Perkins
How does it feel to be one of the youngest female founders and CEOs of a billion-dollar company? Ask Melanie Perkins! She is the visionary behind the popular graphic design platform Canva. We aren’t all born graphic designers. But thanks to Melanie’s technology, 10 million users across 179 countries have been able to optimize their creative marketing and brand strategies. She and her team at Canva are redefining the graphic design industry as we know it. Melanie is a top speaker on topics such as entrepreneurship, company culture, fostering ideas, work life balance and innovation.
Melanie was a 19-year-old college student at the University of Western Australia when she first realized what a huge need simplified graphic design software was in the evolving digital age. She taught other students how to use InDesign and Photoshop in her spare time and recognized the complexity of these programs was rendering them useless to so many people. Thus, the idea for Canva was born.
While she knew she wanted to make her platform applicable to a variety of industries on a global scale, Melanie was smart and tested the idea first with a yearbook design company called Fusion Books. Her company slowly picked up steam and eventually grew into a go-to yearbook design platform in Australia, France and New Zealand. Now she had a proven idea. Next was the pitch stage.
Australia is a long way from the big Silicon Valley investor pool. So Melanie moved to San Francisco to stay with her brother while she traveled back and forth to pitch meetings. It was hard for her to get a meeting, much less an investment. It took 3 years before the company got its first investment. What’s amazing about Melanie is her commitment to seeing her product come to life. She tried all kinds of crazy tactics in her pitch meetings including mimicking body language. That’s just the half of it.
Melanie memorably took up kiteboarding to impress a group of high level investors and kiteboarding enthusiasts at a networking conference held by Bill Tai. And it worked! Through kiteboarding, Melanie met with an investor was put in touch with Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson. The two actors loved Canva and were some of Melanie’s biggest early investors along with Tai. Another huge co-sign came from former Apple creative Guy Kawasaki. He knew Melanie was on to something and joined the Canva team in 2014 as Chief Evangelist.
Melanie has continued to grow her tech company to new heights thanks in part to her company culture that values a healthy work life balance. She is a model entrepreneur and businesswoman for the next generation of the female workforce.
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