From zero to half a billion: Canva’s Melanie Perkins on their biggest lesson to date

Canva founders

Over the past three years, Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins has led her venture through one of the most radical growth trajectories Australia’s startup sector has seen.

In addition to a valuation of more than $450 million, Canva’s team is now 100 plus strong and its platform is used by people all around the world.

It was even named one of Australia’s coolest companies to work for by Job Advisor.

Reflecting on her journey to date, Perkins tells StartupSmart that one of the most important lessons she has picked up through it all is the importance of scaling leadership and communication as they’ve grown.

“Different stages of a business [require] very different types of leadership,” Perkins says.

“When there were just a few of us at the beginning, we’d be spread thin across every aspect of the company, leadership was working really hard to make sure we were able to meet our goals to make sure our company stayed alive.”

With the people power of more than 100, Perkins says their understanding and approach to leadership has been significantly transformed.

The new challenge being to ensure that all hands on deck are rowing in the same direction.

“It’s still essential there is a clear picture of where we are trying to go but I have to direct most of my time to helping our team to make great decisions,” she says.

“Good communication is one of the most important aspects of being a good leader.

“There are so many aspects of a company to navigate – the prevention and cure for most issues is communication.”

The shift from a team of three to more than 100 has also meant scaling the way Perkins and her leadership team communicates with all staff.

Read more: How Canva founder Melanie Perkins overcame rejection to build a “truly stunning’ startup.

“When there were just a few of us sitting around one table, everyone always knew what everyone else was working on,” she says.

To ensure the Canva team stay engaged, motivated and connected on this journey, Perkins says she runs weekly meetings to keep everyone up to date with the big vision and trends the company is competing in.

She also uses these weekly team catch-ups to give everyone a chance to promote and support each other’s contributions to the venture.

“On Mondays, our teams have team meetings and on Fridays we do a team standup where everyone shows off what they have been working on,” she says.

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Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.