Marc Fontrodona and Ander OrdoƱo

PERKINS

Canva wouldn't exist  without kitesurfing

MELANIE

Perkins was born on 13 May 1988 in Perth, Australia. The daughter of an engineer and a teacher, her dream was to be a professional figure skater.

At 14, she took her first steps as an entrepreneur, selling handmade scarves. While studying at college, she also gave design classes.

It was at college that, aged 19,  Perkins realised tools like Photoshop and Indesign were “too complex”.  She wanted to make graphic design more accessible.

With her boyfriend, Cliff Obrecht, she founded Fusion Books, a platform for creating school yearbooks. It was a success and is still going strong.

Perkins wanted to take the next step, but she needed funding. She says she unsuccessfully pitched her project to more than 100 investors.

Then Bill Tai, a tech investor involved  in Tweetdeck and Zoom, visited Australia to serve on an awards jury and go kitesurfing. She and  Obrecht went to see him.

They didn’t secure any money, but they did get into his kitesurfing group. Tai told them there were potential investors who did the sport.

Perkins learned to kitesurf, and it worked. She and Obrecht raised $3m and launched Canva in 2013. Within a year, it already had 600,000 users.

Today, more than 60m use Canva, with 500,000 paying for Canva Pro. Over 100 designs are created per second, and the tool’s value exceeds $40bn.

Perkins, who has an 18% stake  in Canva and is the company's CEO, is among the mere 2% of tech  bosses who are women.

Her net worth is $6.5bn. She’s part of the Giving Pledge, an initiative that sees wealthy individuals donate much of their fortune to charitable causes.

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