Analyzing Canva’s Co-founder And CEO, Melanie Perkins

Entrepreneurship and Melanie Perkins

Entrepreneurship is the act of starting the business and taking the financial risks. As stated by DeNisi (2015), entrepreneurs have the capacity to develop, manage and organise the business venture with risks with a hope of making a profit. In recent time, female entrepreneurs encompass almost 1/3 of global entrepreneurs. Today female entrepreneurs are not far behind to typically run, design and launch the new business with a new start-up concept. Entrepreneurs identify a chance of doing the business in the market and they develop new service or products to create wealth from the industry gap. This report focuses on the entrepreneurship venture of Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva, an online platform helping people to create and collaborate amazing graphic design.

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Melanie Perkins was born in the year 1988 in Perth, Australia. She found herself in love with digital media as well as graphic design when she was studying course on communication in the University of Australia. The university faculties noticed her love and dedication towards graphic designing and they invited her to visit and teach designing the very next year. In the year 2007, Melanie started teaching the students Photoshop and InDesign, she understood the students were struggling to learn Photoshop ( 2018). Melanie belonged to open socio-cultural background as her parents never stopped her from doing what she loved. Melanie found her passion towards designing and she wanted to make a simple, collaborative and affordable platform to learn the designing, she started Fusion Books collaborating with Cliff Obrecht. Melanie first started her business when she was just 19 and she believes that the secret to her success is not having any experience in the field of designing ( 2018). Melanie Perkins thought that like Facebook, people would definitely like the easy to use the software. She found her boyfriend Cliff Obrecht similar minded who like designing. A passionate designer and university educator Melanie Perkins got into the start-up world from sheer passion and love towards digital media and designing. Perkins got the motivation to embark towards entrepreneurial journey as she loved to own her own the freedom and being her own boss. Students in her class felt discouraged when the students did not get the idea of designing and she wanted to find the solution to serve the middle ground to create interest among the students. 

As discussed in Theory of Achievement Motivation, Pekrun and Perry (2014) discussed that entrepreneurs find motivation in need for achievement, need for affiliation and need for power. On the basis of entrepreneurial personality, entrepreneurs provide the importance of achievement motivation through fulfilling economic and social development. Entrepreneurs do an experiment to achieve the motivation which can create a positive influence on performance. Achievement Theory states that an entrepreneur has two major characteristics; doing the business in a better way and decision-making process under uncertainty (Leitch and Volery 2017). Melanie Perkins falls into this category as she started her entrepreneurship journey with a motivation to do something in graphic designing using the online platform.      

Melanie Perkins’ Background

Melanie Perkins has the characteristic of risk-taking ability and she loves something which everyone takes as impossible. By nature, Melanie Perkins is very approachable and soft-spoken; however, she has the nerve of steel. Melanie Perkins feels inspiration when people say the work cannot be done or it has never been done; she feels like to do this. In addition, she possesses the characteristic of inborn motivation as she is always motivated to do something new with a powerful team. She is passionate about graphic designing and she is dedicated towards the designing. Melanie Perkins has the capability of risk-taking as she has faced numerous challenges and rejection at the early stages of starting up the business of Canva ( 2018). Each of the entrepreneurs faces the possibility of failure or the entrepreneurs can face adverse consequences. The risk adheres to the career of entrepreneur and Melanie Perkins has the ability to take the risks in personal finances, career and mental health. Another entrepreneur trait is quite clear in Melanie Perkins as she loves to do the venture with suitable people making a team who can fulfil the objectives of her entrepreneurship.

Theory of Leadership in entrepreneurship presents that entrepreneurship is the function of the leadership and management skill that show the ability to lead and manage the people. As stated by Tedmanson and Evans (2017), the leadership of the entrepreneur is based on the social conditions that ensure the development of the enterprise-oriented personality. The author further stated that the role of culture can play the important factor in the leadership of entrepreneur. Melanie Perkins belongs from Australia and she knows the importance of heterogeneous people and their position in the society.

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After the incident of Fusion Books, Melanie Perkins got the Innovator of the Year Awards in Perth. During this time, Bill Tai, founder of Tai Mai and the inventor of San Francisco invited her. Melanie Perkins visited San Francisco and she spent three months to learn about the start-up world. She went to Silicon Valley to generate the money for the start-up concept. There she met the co-founder of Google Map Lars Rasmussen and she pitched the first ever business concept to the engineers and investors. During this period, she met many rejections from the investors for the business; however, she believed in designing and the found the opportunity in the market where the users of Canva can make the designers by themselves. In 2013, she got the funding of $ 3 million and launched Canva in 2013 ( 2018). Melanie Perkins made matrix partnership with the Lars, Bill and Guy Kawasaki to start the business. Melanie understood that each of the industry is currently focusing on the design which can communicate visually. Each of the individual today is aware of designing and Canva has long-widen business scope to grab the market. Even after the business started, Melanie Perkins faced the issue of rejection for the investment, however, Melanie always thought that rejection and trying is part of the business process. Team Canva is nothing without Cliff Obrecht as Melanie and Cliff both have a strong motivation to work ethically with a strong team.

Canva’s Founding Story

The success of Fusion Yearbook provided Perkins confidence to set off for the big dream and she wanted to make software which could be used by individuals in the very easy way. Melanie spent sleepless nights to plan the start-up and she worked feverishly so that she must be presentable in front of the potential investors. She spent three years before getting the first investor. The world is shifting to digital and great digital design is needed for the businesses. Canva has been designed not for only businesses; but for everyone. Theory of Model Personality states that entrepreneurs’ performance is influenced by the attitude towards the occupation and role expectation of the team members (Gunawan et al. 2016). The entrepreneur needs to check the operational requirement as society puts a value on the most significant role expectation (Delaney et al. 2016).

Canva is designed to make design presentations, social media graphics and thousands of beautiful layouts help the users to make stylish cards. Canva provides some free and some paid designs for the users who can use these designs for an amazing change of the content. In addition, Canva also provides free icons and shapes to the users so that the users can make beautiful layouts of the presentation. Moreover, Canva provides hundreds of fonts to make the designs look good. Canva got maximum profit in the early stage as it is a new platform for the users and the competition has been light. Later in the journey, the competition will be high when some of the similar platforms will pop up. Canva currently has more than 10 million users and 100 million plus design has been created for the users ( 2018). Canva has a competitive advantage as it provides a chance to the users to make daily usage posters for birthday, engagement and anniversary and the users can post these designs and posters on social media. Therefore, Canva is getting famous among the social media platforms when the people observe the beautiful and eye-catchy posters. In addition, business organisations are also using Canva for promoting their business as Canva provides professional services along with stunning graphics.

It has been noted that Melanie Perkins developed the concept of Canva from her desire to do something for digital graphics. Canva is famous among the visual marketers. Canva is different from other photo editing app as it provides millions of images from photographs, vectors and illustration. Canva also provides photo filters which help in editing the photos using the present filters or get advanced with photo editing tool.

Canva needs to make profit quickly as a quick action in the entrepreneurship helps in getting the maximum profit. Melanie Perkins has done disruptive innovation as she needs to heat up the price so that the organisation can retain maximum profit. Melanie Perkins should avoid perfection of the software and business; however, she needs to focus on the stability of the market. Melanie Perkins has set up the solid basics of the business; she can expand the business geographically to earn more profit.


About Canva. 2018. Our Story – About Canva. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Aug. 2018].

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DeNisi, A.S., 2015. Some further thoughts on the entrepreneurial personality. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 39(5), pp.997-1003.

Founder. 2018. 8 Million Users, The Canva Story with Melanie Perkins – FP76. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Aug. 2018].

Gunawan, T., Jacob, J. and Duysters, G., 2016. Network ties and entrepreneurial orientation: Innovative performance of SMEs in a developing country. International Entrepreneurship and Management Journal, 12(2), pp.575-599.

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Pekrun, R. and Perry, R.P., 2014. Control-value theory of achievement emotions. International handbook of emotions in education, pp.120-141.

Tedmanson, D. and Evans, M., 2017. Challenging leadership in discourses of Indigenous entrepreneurship in Australia. Critical Perspectives on Entrepreneurship: Challenging Dominant Discourses, p.91.