Melanie Perkins is an Australian billionaire technology entrepreneur, who is the CEO and co-founder of Canva (with Cliff Obrecht) and owns 18% of the company. Perkins is one of the youngest female CEOs of a tech start-up valued over $1 billion. As of May 2021, Perkins was one of Australia's richest women.
Perkins and Obrecht were originally based in Perth. Perkins claims that she was rejected by over 100 local investors in Perth. In 2011, prominent investor, Bill Tai visited Perth to judge a start-up competition. Perkins and Obrecht pitched Tai the initial idea for Canva over dinner. There were also other venture capitalists present including Rick Baker from Blackbird Ventures. They received no funding but became regular fixtures at gatherings hosted by Tai for investors and start-up founders. Some of these gatherings took place in Silicon Valley where Perkins and Obrecht met Lars Rasmussen, co-founder of Google Maps. He expressed interest in the idea but told the founders to 'put everything on hold' until they found a tech team of the calibre required.
Rasmussen then became the tech adviser to the business where he introduced Perkins and Obrecht to Cameron Adams, an ex-Google employee with the relevant technical expertise. Adams was initially not interested in joining the business as he was starting his own business called fluent.io, software attempting to disrupt email. Adams was in Silicon Valley trying to raise funds for his start-up when Perkins sent him another email asking if he wanted to join the business. After that email, he agreed to join Canva, becoming its third founder and chief product officer. Perkins is the CEO of one of the few 'unicorn' start-ups that are profitable.
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