Melanie Perkins is the Co-founder and CEO of the most widely used graphic designing platform, Canva. She is the richest self-made female billionaire under 40. She is an Australian entrepreneur who is the youngest female CEO of any tech-startup which is valued at over $1 billion. 34-year-old Perkins also ranked 491 on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index and her net worth is valued at $5.89 billion. In 2020, Forbes also added Perkins to the list of the world's "Top 30 Under 30 Founders of the decade".
She is not only an inspiring figure for young women entrepreneurs but is also empowering millions to create great designs and paint ideas through Canva.
Perkins was born on January 1, 1987, in Perth, Western Australia. She did her schooling at Sacred Heart College and at 14 years of age she started her first business of selling handmade scarves. This experience led her to develop her entrepreneurial drive as she could never forget the freedom and excitement of building a business.
She also dropped out of the college, the University of Western Australia at the age of 19 to run her own startup Fushion Books in 2007. Fushion Books is an online designing system for schools to create their yearbooks. It is now the largest yearbook publisher in Australia and recently expanded to France and New Zealand.
Later in 2012, Perkins along with Cameron Adams and Cliff Obrecht founded Canva. The free graphic designing platform is now valued at $40 billion and it has become one of the biggest privately-owned companies worldwide. The easy-to-use software is helpful in creating all kinds of visual presentations for multiple purposes and has about 60 million users utilizing its features every month. The software has more than 50,000 templates and the easy interface has made designing possible for even amateurs.
Cliff Obrecht, who is also one of the co-founders of Canva proposed to Perkins in 2019 on a holiday in Turkey. The couple married in January 2021 and the engagement ring was worth $30 only. The couple expressed their desire to donate most of their fortune to charity and are critical about materialism. Cliff Obrecht's net worth is valued at $2.0 billion and he is the Chief operating officer (COO) of Canva.
The recent round of private equity investment worth $200 million has doubled the company's value and placed its co-founders among the top 10 richest people in Australia and Perkins to the title of the richest self-made female billionaire under 40 at the age of 34.
Since the percentage of women is comparatively lower in the technology industry, there was controversy surrounding the gender disparity amongst the start-ups too. Perkins is amongst the 2 percent of female CEOs of venture-backed companies. However, when she was asked about gender disparity in the media, she refrained from making direct comments saying she prefers to focus ‘on what she can control’. In her own startup, Canva, she has implemented policies to eliminate any kind of gender bias in the hiring process. Canva has 41 percent female representation, significantly higher than the industry average of 28 percent.