Melanie Perkins 101: Canva's Visionary Trailblazer
Zatrun Published at July 11, 2024

In the dynamic world of tech startups, Melanie Perkins shines as a notable figure who has transformed the landscape of design and technology. has conducted a comprehensive analysis of her life and career, uncovering the remarkable journey of this Australian billionaire technology entrepreneur.

Early Life: A Journey of Ambition and Entrepreneurship

Melanie Perkins, born on May 13, 1987, hails from Perth, Western Australia. She grew up in a diverse family, with an Australian-born teacher for a mother and a Malaysian engineer of Filipino and Sri Lankan descent for a father.

Her early aspirations were far from the tech world; she dreamt of becoming a professional figure skater, waking up at 4:30 am for rigorous training sessions. At the young age of fourteen, she ventured into entrepreneurship by selling handmade scarves, igniting her entrepreneurial spirit.

Upon high school graduation, Melanie embarked on her academic journey at the University of Western Australia, majoring in communications, psychology, and commerce. During this time, she discovered the challenges students faced when learning graphic design software.

She saw a business opportunity in simplifying the design process and decided to create a platform where technical expertise was not a prerequisite. It was this idea that laid the foundation for her entrepreneurial career.

Fusion Books: Pioneering the Path

In 2007, Melanie Perkins and her business partner, Cliff Obrecht, co-founded Fusion Books. The venture allowed students to design their own school yearbooks through a user-friendly drag-and-drop tool, streamlining the creation process.

Melanie initially aimed to develop software for easier design but recognized the potential of focusing on yearbooks due to her mother’s experience as a school yearbook coordinator. Fusion Books grew exponentially, becoming the largest yearbook company in Australia and expanding into France and New Zealand.

Formation of Canva: A Journey to Success

Melanie Perkins faced multiple rejections from local investors in Perth, but her determination to simplify design persisted. In 2011, during a start-up competition judged by prominent investor Bill Tai, Perkins and Obrecht introduced the initial concept of Canva.

While they didn’t secure funding, their idea intrigued venture capitalists like Rick Baker from Blackbird Ventures. Their journey led them to Silicon Valley, where they met Lars Rasmussen, the co-founder of Google Maps, who introduced them to Cameron Adams, an ex-Google employee with the required technical expertise.

Despite initial hesitations, Adams eventually joined Canva as the third founder and chief product officer. Melanie Perkins now stands as the CEO of Canva, a “unicorn” start-up that has not only achieved great success but is also profitable, a rarity in the industry.

Empowering Diversity: Melanie Perkins’ Commitment to Change

Melanie Perkins is not just an entrepreneur but a beacon for diversity in the tech industry. With only 2 percent of female CEOs in venture-backed companies, Perkins has been an advocate for change. She has implemented policies at Canva to eliminate bias in hiring, resulting in 41 percent female representation, well above the industry average of 28 percent.

Beyond her business ventures, Melanie Perkins enjoys kite-surfing, a networking choice among venture capitalists. She has traveled the world extensively, with a trip to India being a transformative experience. In 2019, Perkins’ engagement to Cliff Obrecht in Turkey’s Cappadocia region was marked by a $30 engagement ring.

The couple has been vocal about their desire to donate most of their fortune to charity. They tied the knot in January 2021 on Rottnest Island and later joined the Giving Pledge in November 2021, pledging at least half of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

Melanie Perkins’ Impact on the Rich List

Melanie Perkins’ influence extends beyond her entrepreneurial endeavors. She was named one of the world’s “Top Under 30 of the Decade” by Forbes. Her appearance on The Australian Financial Review Rich List in 2020 marked her rise as one of Australia’s wealthiest individuals.

As of May 2023, Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht jointly hold the ninth position on the Rich List, with a net worth of A$13.18 billion. The journey of Melanie Perkins is one of ambition, innovation, and a commitment to making a difference. Her story showcases the transformative power of entrepreneurship and the potential to create change in both business and society.

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