This fast-growing Australian competitor to Microsoft doubled its valuation in 12 months

Canva CEO Melanie Perkins
Canva CEO Melanie Perkins Canva

Canva, a fast-growing Australian graphic design startup going head-to-head with Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop, just took a $15 million investment from Australia’s Blackbird Ventures and Silicon Valley’s Felicis Ventures.

“Our vision is to create the platform that powers the modern workforce and enables everyone to communicate their ideas visually, but we have so much left to do,” Canva CEO Melanie Perkins tells Business Insider.

Most office workers are familiar with the struggle of wrestling with Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop, trying to make a document, presentation, or flyer that doesn’t look like too amateurish.

Meanwhile, Canva was born in 2011 with the idea that you don’t need to be a graphic designer to do graphic design, whether you work at a cubicle or you’re just trying to make a thank-you note for a birthday gift. What it lacks in name recognition, it tries to make up for in simplicity.

And that approach seems to have worked: In the last 12 months, Canva has gone from 1.5 million users to over 10 million, with 50,000 business teams including Yelp and the Huffington Post paying for it, Perkins recently told Business Insider. Just last week, Perkins says, 50,000 people signed up for Canva in one day, and 8 people joined the team. And the Canva iPhone app was downloaded 500,000 times in its first month of availability, Perkins says.

Canva for the web
Canva is designed to make graphic design super-easy for everybody. Screenshot/Canva

With that kind of momentum, Canva has been able to double its valuation from $165 million in late 2015, when it last raised a separate investment of $15 million, to $345 million today, according to Canva. In the Australian startup scene, where there’s less venture capital flying around, and valuations tend to be lower, that’s no small feat.

Better yet: Perkins says that they haven’t spent a dime of last year’s $15 million investment.

“While we haven’t spent a dollar from our last round, we have huge plans for Canva and having a lot of capital ready to go makes it possible for us to quadruple down,” Perkins says. “There’s core pillars of our plans that were in our original pitch deck from 2011 that we still haven’t commenced.”

For starters, Perkins says, Canva will be available in 20 languages by the year’s end, up from 11 now: She sees big worldwide opportunity, especially in the workplace, for providing these kinds of design tools, so it’s important to localise everywhere.

In a world where people spend more time on their phones and on social media, it’s going to be more important than ever that your words and pictures stand out, instead of blending in. From Perkins’ perspective, that means lots of opportunities for Canva. But first, they need to build out the product even further.

“We’re setting up the foundations for a big company,” Perkins says.

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