Before the business she co-founded attained its $1billion ‘unicorn’ valuation, Melanie Perkins hit a point where she thought she had failed her co-founders. Ms Perkins was in the US, chasing investment from Silicon Valley entrepreneur Bill Tai into her online publisher, Canva.
Before the business she co-founded attained its $1billion ‘unicorn’ valuation, Melanie Perkins hit a point where she thought she had failed her co-founders.
“But no resumé I brought him was up to scratch,” Ms Perkins told Business News.
“Eventually, after three months of accosting engineers anywhere I could and being rejected more times than I would have thought possible, my visa to the US expired.
“I felt like a complete and utter failure.
“I’d spent thousands of dollars in the US, and I felt like I’d let my co-founder, Cliff Obrecht, down.”
It was then she was introduced to Cameron Adams, who joined as a co-founder, and together, the three built a business that was recently valued at $3.6 billion.
A program and grant from the WA Innovator of the Year awards, for which Canva’s predecessor, Fusion Books, was a finalist in 2008, helped get the business off the ground.
Ms Perkins said other major funding sources were a Commercialisation Australia grant, research tax concessions, and a loan from NAB, which she said had supported the business when other banks would not.
“Access to early-stage funding is critical to starting a startup – working part-time jobs, piecing together funding from family and friends, spending all of your savings, eating on the cheap and working from home or a garage – this is the beginning for most startups,” Ms
The inspiration for Canva had come while she was teaching graphic design programs part time during university.
“I realised that they were incredibly complex to learn, and set out to make them much easier to use,” Ms Perkins said.
Mr Tai, who is also a visiting professor at Curtin University, played a pivotal role in the story of another Perth success story, Power Ledger, a startup that uses blockchain to track electricity movements on a grid from distributed sources.
At its peak in early 2018, Power Ledger’s crypto token had a market capitalisation of more than $US600 million, and the business won Sir Richard Branson’s global Extreme Tech Challenge award in
The company’s technology has been used at a property development in White Gum Valley, with a Japanese solar energy provider, and with an electric car charging project in California’s Silicon Valley.