While teaching at the University of Western Australia, Melanie Perkins saw firsthand how difficult it was to navigate graphic design software.
That's why she created Canva, an intuitive, user-friendly, free design tool that allows anyone to create graphics seamlessly.
Without any experience in professional marketing, business, or tech, Perkins dove into the world of investors, fueled only by her belief in Canva.
Since launching the company in 2013, Perkins has been deemed one of Australia's tech unicorns and created a network of over 15 million Canva users.
This year, Canva was backed by top venture capitalist, Mary Meeker, and is now worth $2.5 billion.
Here, learn more about Canva's Melanie Perkins and get inspired to chase your own tech dreams!
Courtesy of Twitter @Canva
1. Perkins began her first business in her mom's living room.
Stemming from the same problem of clunky graphic design software, Perkins started a company focused specifically on yearbook designs, allowing schools to choose their layouts and colors.
To launch the company, she set up shop in her mother's living room, and eventually took over most of the family home.
Fusion Books is still operating today and is the largest yearbook publisher in Australia, where Perkins is from.
2. She loves to start her day on Twitter.
While most believe mornings shouldn't be for social media, Melanie disagrees.
For her, logging onto Twitter, along with journaling, jump-starts her day.
"I love reading tweets from our Canva community and have just started using the Five Minute Journal, where you write the answers to a few questions, such as 'I am grateful for...' and 'What would make today great,'" said Perkins in an interview with Thrive Global.
"It's a lovely way to start the day and helps to ensure I'm proactively shaping my day ahead."
3. She's known as one of the coolest people in tech.
In 2016, Business Insider ranked Perkins No.3 on their list of the coolest tech people in Australia.
She follows Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founders of the multibillion dollar software company Atlassian.
4. Getting investors wasn't easy.
Living in Australia made it hard for Perkins to reach out to large tech investors, many of whom were based in Northern California.
Before striking it lucky, Perkins lived with her brother for three months in San Francisco, pitching to over 100 venture capitalists -- all of whom rejected Canva.
"I remember thinking, 'Why is this so hard?'" Perkins said in an interview.
Her luck, however, would change soon enough.
5. Hollywood celebrities were among the first to invest.
While Perkins struggled to get investors early on, she eventually caught the interest of actors Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson.
After learning how to kite surf to impress venture capitalist (and kite surfing connoisseur), Bill Tai, Perkins was introduced to the celebrities.
Both of the Hollywood stars liked her idea and invested in Canva, along with Tai.
6. Everyone struggles in the beginning, says Perkins.
Perkins wants people to know that everyone fails, even if it's not apparent.
"I think it's pretty important to know that every single person is going through their own trials and tribulations," she said.
"Knowing that it's tricky for everyone, that any adventure will be filled with rejections and littered with obstacles -- somehow makes the adventure a little less lonely. And it's most important for people who feel like they are on the outside to know this."
7. She's ranked as one of Australia's richest women.
Not only is Perkins one of the coolest people in Australia, she's also one of the richest women in the country.
According to Australian Financial Review, Melanie ranks No.17 on their 2018 Young Rich List, which highlights the country's wealthiest young people, from supermodels to entrepreneurs.
As Canva's CEO, Perkins is reportedly worth $177 million.
8. It's important to set time aside, says Perkins.
Perkins has acknowledged that running Canva can take up a lot of time.
That's why she finds it so important to carve out time for herself.
"I find going away on holidays, even for the weekend or a week, can be incredibly refreshing," explained Perkins on LinkedIn.
"I personally like to go on quite adventurous holidays, as it doesn't give me time to let my mind think about other things. It's important to give your brain a break sometimes so it can come back refreshed."
9. Perkins is proud to support 25,000 nonprofit organizations.
While Canva supports many businesses or customers, Perkins loves to hear how her company supports charitable organizations.
In an interview with Entrepreneur, Perkins said her platform currently houses 25,000 nonprofits that use Canva for fundraising.
"That's what makes all of the work worth it," said Perkins.
10. Australia is still home.
While Canva is used all over the world, Perkins is still based in Australia.
The company's main office is based in Sydney, and Perkins hopes her home country will soon be a leader in entrepreneurship.
"I would love to see in years to come Australia becoming synonymous with a disproportionate number of great innovators who are hard at work solving the world's real problems with great products," said Perkins on LinkedIn.