Why Australia has the Right Mix for Business Growth — Canva

Published on
November 3, 2022
No items found.
Subscribe to our
By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

When Canva CEO Melanie Perkins was a 19-year-old university student, she had a billion-dollar idea: to empower the world to easily create their own graphic designs without going through the hassle of learning Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, or Illustrator.

It was a problem that always nagged at her and she knew she wasn’t alone. With her co-founder and boyfriend-turned-fiance, Cliff Obrecht, they developed an online design software for the high school yearbook market — Fusion Books.

It was a massive success, eventually becoming the biggest platform of its kind in Australia and expanding into New Zealand and France in just five years. However, Melanie’s dream didn’t stop there. She wanted to go bigger. From Fusion Books, Canva was born.

Using an irresistible freemium business model and millions of vibrant drag-and-drop graphic elements, Canva successfully worked the airwaves into a frenzy by being the first to democratise design — much like Google democratised information and Apple democratised computers.

Today, over 85% of Fortune 500 companies use the platform. What started as a high school yearbook business quickly mushroomed into a billion-dollar design space that, in just eight years, is close to going head-to-head with tech titans Microsoft and Adobe.

What was it about Canva’s humble beginnings in Australia that make it such a global success today? In this third instalment to our “Why Australia has the Right Mix for Business Growth” series, we explore the factors that made Australia perfectly set up to grow Canva into a global force.

Australia Helped Canva Get More Things Done

One great way Australia sets businesses up for successful goal achievement is by assisting investors — whether local or foreign — in various aspects of the investment process through grants and tax incentives.

When it comes to investing in innovation, Australia has it figured out all through to 2030. In fact, when Canva founders got $1.5 million at the close of their initial funding round, the Australian government matched that amount as a way to motivate the company to stay on Aussie soil.

By acknowledging that business-driven innovation is integral to expanding the economy, strengthening the workforce, and addressing numerous societal issues, Australia has empowered itself using an aggressively pragmatic approach when it comes to supporting high-potential startups and scaleups like Canva toward growth, innovation, and long-term global success.

Australia has a Market that Allowed Canva Founders to Perfect Their Product  

The road toward Canva’s success was paved with plenty of rejections. However, instead of allowing this to dampen their enthusiasm, Canva founders used this obstacle to motivate themselves into perfecting not just their pitch but also their product using good old market research — starting from home.

Using valuable insights they have gleaned from Australia’s highly diversified population, Canva was able to learn what makes their ideal clients — and the broader market — tick. Today, more than 20 million users across 190 countries find that Canva perfectly addresses their design needs all because the company listened to what their research tells them.

For this unicorn, it is simply not enough to saturate just one market. They continue to challenge the boundaries of what it means to design in multiple industries all over the globe. And they were able to successfully do so by initially paying attention to what their local market needed.

Australia has a Skilled Talent Pool that Empowered Canva to Grow and Evolve

The Australian workforce, being a melting pot of different demographics, is also ripe with high-value talents and provides employers like Canva access to a vast range of skills, expertise, and perspectives.

Canva’s early success has been built on the foundation of a stellar team of equally talented and passionate Aussies. By enlisting the expertise of ex-Googlers Cameron Adams and Dave Hearnden, Canva was able to focus on strategising future product directions and innovative experiences as well as developing a transformative program and an operating system that put the company on the map.

Today, Canva enjoys a team of 1,500 skilled professionals across the world, but still comes back to their roots. In their headquarters in the coffee capital of Sydney, you can find an ever-growing pool of highly skilled individuals, including many of the early technical hires who were key contributors to Canva’s overarching success then and now.

Canva continues to grow into the design behemoth its founders always hoped it would become thanks to growing worldwide support, bigger distribution channels, and substantial pools of resources. But without the initial support of the Australian government, access to a multitude of insights, and steady streams of world-class local talents, their journey toward global success would not have been as smooth-sailing as it has.

This article is the third instalment to BeingIconic’s “Why Australia has the Right Mix for Business Growth” series, where — as scale-up specialists — we explore the uniquely Australian factors that contributed to the success of Canva and other global scale-ups like AfterPay, Atlassian, The Iconic, Prospa, and Sendle.

Tune in next time as we break down how The Iconic disrupted retail industries across the globe.