Canva - the easy to use designing app, makes Melanie Perkins the youngest billionaire
From designing it from her mothers couch to being the youngest billionaire and the third-richest woman in Australia.
Melanie Perkins founded the popular digital graphics business – Canva – with her fiance (Cliff Obrecht) in 2014. Six  years later Perkins became Australia’s youngest billionaire and the third richest woman in the country at the age of 32.
Amassing a personal fortune of $1.3billion with a COVID-19 pandemic surge in users to take her fortune to approximately $2.5billion, Perkin’s story is one that represents how passion and humility in business are strongly valued traits in the corporate world.
Perkins initially dropped out of the University of Western Australia and developed the design app – Fusion Yearbook – whilst on her mother’s couch. Fusion Yearbook was created for schools and students (globally) to be able to create their yearbooks with ease. Her inspiration to create an easy to use design-app came as a result of realising the difficulty and complexity many users faced with using more traditional design software. This led Perkins to (in 2007) come up with the idea to create easy-to-use graphic design software which allows schools and students to make their own yearbooks.
Perkins and Obrecht began advertising for this brand using a small bank loan and a tax rebate of $5,000. Lacking any business or marketing experience, Perkins and Obrecht began marketing their products. Perkins noted at an interview “when we got our first $100 cheque, it was the most exciting moment ever, knowing people were prepared to pay for what we had built… we never took on external financing but we kept putting every cent back into the business.”
Fusion Books at present is now the largest school yearbook publisher in Australia and has expanded into France and New Zealand. Perkins and Obrecht believed that their technology had applications beyond the yearbook market, and knew they had to pursue their vision.
Leading on from their success with Fusion Book, it was in 2013 that Canva (now valued at $8.77billion) was launched and by 2019 had over 1 million users. Although the company had already expanded to Manila and Beijing by October 2019, it was the ensuing COVID-19 Pandemic that resulted in the global #WFH (Work from Home) mandate that led to the exponential increase in popularity of the design app.
Perkins has always been gifted with graphic design skills that made her excel amongst her peers, so much so that she was even invited to lead graphic design workshops for students in other faculties on how to use InDesign and Photoshop – “programs that people found hard to learn and even harder to use”.