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How Canva grew from $0 to $26B?


How Canva grew from $0 to $26B?

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Canva Growth Strategy

Have you ever spent hours creating the perfect social media post or infographic, only to feel frustrated with complicated editing tools like Photoshop? Well, you’re not alone. Designing can be time-consuming and complicated, especially for those who need to be more professional. 

That’s where Canva comes in, the design platform that has revolutionized the industry and grown from a small start-up to a $26 billion company.

At first glance, it may seem like Canva’s success story is too good to be true. But after digging into the company’s history, we discovered some fascinating insights that can be applied to any business. In this article, we’ll dive into how Canva grew from $0 to $26B and explore the strategies that supported their exponential growth.

2012 to 2016 (Word of Mouth)

One of the mental models that we can learn from Canva’s early beginnings is “Go niche before going big.” Canva’s founder, Melanie Perkins, initially focused on the education market, which is still a significant audience for the platform. Instead of trying to go global right away, they focused on the Australian market, establishing a strong foothold in their home country first.

By 2014, Canva already had 750,000 users within two years of launch, with word-of-mouth spreading the product quickly. Canva built a product that was easy to use, even for beginners, and was needed by everyone. Not everyone wanted to learn Photoshop, so Canva filled a gap in the market.

Influencer marketing also played a role in Canva’s growth, even though the term wasn’t coined yet in 2012. The platform’s user-friendly features caught the attention of influencers, who then shared it with their followers.

What is Canva?

Canva is a popular online graphic design tool that allows people with no design experience to create high-quality designs. It is a drag-and-drop platform that provides users with access to millions of images, fonts, and design templates. With Canva, anyone can create beautiful designs for social media posts, flyers, business cards, invitations, and much more.

How Canva Started?

Canva was founded in 2012 by Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht, and Cameron Adams. It started as a simple tool for creating school yearbooks in Australia. But soon, Perkins realized the potential of the tool beyond the education market. She wanted to make design accessible to everyone, and Canva was the solution.

The co-founders initially struggled to raise funds for their venture, but after a successful pitch to Silicon Valley investors, they secured $6 million in funding. The company has since raised a total of $200 million in funding and has a valuation of $40 billion.

Pitching to Silicon Valley

Perkins and her team pitched Canva to several Silicon Valley investors. The pitch was a 10-slide deck that highlighted the potential of the platform. The deck included a demo of the tool, an overview of the market opportunity, and a vision for the future of design.

Perkins focused on the fact that Canva was making design accessible to everyone, not just designers. She emphasized that the tool was easy to use and that it was a game-changer for the design industry. The pitch was so compelling that it convinced several investors to invest in the company.

How Canva got its first user?

Canva’s goal is to reach 3.2 billion users, but how did it get its first users? It all started with a great product that was developed with user feedback and continuous testing. The platform’s ease of use, combined with word-of-mouth advertising and social currency, created an unstoppable growth engine.

Canva also empowered its users to create and share content, which helped spread the word about the platform even further. Influencer advocacy played a significant role in Canva’s growth, and they capitalized on it early, even before the term “influencer marketing” became a buzzword.

Canva’s User-Friendly Features

Canva’s features make it easy for anyone, regardless of their design skills, to create stunning visuals. The platform has a drag-and-drop design editor that allows users to create everything from social media posts to presentations and even e-books. Canva also offers a wide range of design templates, graphics, fonts, and stock photos, which users can use to create their designs.

How Canva’s Design Library Grew?

Canva’s design library has grown to include over 100 million designs, templates, and graphics. The company achieved this by partnering with various content providers, like Unsplash and Getty Images, and creating their in-house design team. Canva’s design team creates new templates and graphics every day, which are then added to the library. This has made the platform an essential tool for designers, marketers, and entrepreneurs worldwide.

Canva’s Marketing and Growth Strategies

Canva’s marketing and growth strategies have played a significant role in the company’s success. The platform’s freemium business model, coupled with its user-friendly features, has helped Canva acquire over 10 million users in just a few years. Canva’s growth strategies also include word-of-mouth advertising, social media, content marketing, and influencer advocacy.

Canva’s user-friendly features have made it easy for users to create designs and share them with their followers. The company also invested in building a community of users who create and share their designs, which has helped increase the platform’s visibility.

Canva’s Freemium Business Model

Canva’s freemium business model allows users to create designs for free, with the option to upgrade to Canva Pro for additional features. Canva’s free version provides users with access to a vast library of templates, graphics, and stock photos. Canva Pro, on the other hand, offers additional features, like team collaboration, more design tools, and unlimited storage.

Canva’s Revenue Streams

Canva’s primary revenue stream comes from its Canva Pro subscription service. The company also generates revenue from its print and shipping services, where users can order printed designs, like business cards and flyers, directly from the platform. Additionally, Canva partners with other companies, like Dropbox and Google Drive, to offer integrated services that generate revenue for the company.

Canva’s Funding History

Canva has raised over $685 million in funding since its inception in 2012. The company’s first funding round raised $3 million from investors like Matrix Partners and Blackbird Ventures. In 2019, Canva raised $85 million in a Series D funding round led by Mary Meeker’s Bond, which valued the company at $3.2 billion.

How Canva Achieved a $26 Billion Valuation?

In April 2021, Canva raised $71 million in a funding round, which valued the company at $15 billion. Just four months later, Canva raised an additional $200 million, which brought the company’s valuation to $40 billion. The funding round was led by T. Rowe Price and other investors, including Sequoia Capital, General Catalyst, and Bond. Canva’s remarkable growth and potential have made it a darling of the investment world, with investors betting big on the platform’s future.

How Did Canva Become So Successful?

Canva’s success can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, it is an incredibly user-friendly platform. Even people with no design experience can create professional-looking designs with ease. 

The platform has millions of images, fonts, and templates to choose from, making the design process quick and painless.

Secondly, Canva has a freemium business model. The platform is free to use, but users can pay for additional features such as access to premium images and templates. This model has proven to be very successful, as many users eventually upgrade to the paid version of the tool.

Lastly, Canva’s marketing strategy has played a huge role in its success. The company has utilized influencer marketing, social media, and content marketing to build brand awareness and drive traffic to the platform. Canva has also partnered with several well-known brands to create branded templates, which has helped to increase its visibility and user base.

How Does Canva Make Money?

Canva makes money primarily through its premium subscription service. Users can pay for access to premium features such as additional templates, premium images, and the ability to create teams. 

The company also makes money through its print and shipping services. Users can order printed versions of their designs directly from the platform.

In addition to these revenue streams, Canva has also launched several other products, including Canva for Education, Canva for Nonprofits, and Canva for Enterprise. These products offer specialized features and services for their respective audiences.

How Many People Use Canva?

Canva has emerged as one of the most popular graphic design tools over the last few years. It has gained a significant user base due to its intuitive user interface, extensive design library, and affordability. Since its launch in 2013, Canva has witnessed tremendous growth, and it has become a go-to design tool for professionals and amateurs alike.

Canva has seen explosive growth in recent years, and it is continuing to grow at an impressive rate. According to the company’s latest reports, Canva has over 60 million monthly active users in 190 countries. It is important to note that Canva’s user base is diverse and spans across multiple sectors, including education, healthcare, e-commerce, and digital marketing.

Canva is not only popular among individuals, but also among businesses, both large and small. Canva has gained a lot of traction among small businesses due to its affordability and easy-to-use interface. The platform’s user base consists of a broad range of businesses from small businesses, mid-sized companies, to large enterprises. Companies use Canva for a variety of purposes, such as creating marketing materials, presentations, and social media posts.

Canva Revenue

Canva’s success is not just limited to its massive user base. The company has also witnessed incredible revenue growth over the years. Canva has implemented a freemium business model, which means that it offers its basic services for free, and charges a subscription fee for its premium features.

According to Canva’s financial statements, the company generated AUD 1 billion in revenue in the 2021 financial year. This is a significant increase from the AUD 500 million in revenue that it generated in the 2020 financial year. The company has been profitable since 2017, and its revenue has been growing at a steady rate ever since.

Canva’s revenue growth can be attributed to the company’s focus on customer needs and its ability to offer a user-friendly platform that caters to everyone. The company’s decision to implement a freemium model has also played a significant role in its success. 

The basic features of Canva are free, which has helped to attract and retain a large user base. Canva generates revenue by offering premium features, such as team collaboration, advanced design tools, and access to its extensive design library.

How Much is Canva Worth?

Canva’s incredible growth and success have not gone unnoticed by investors. The company has been valued at USD 40 billion in its latest funding round, making it one of the most valuable private companies in the world. This is a significant increase from the company’s previous valuation of USD 15 billion in 2019.

Canva’s valuation is a testament to its remarkable growth and its potential to become a leading design tool for both individuals and businesses. The company’s ability to provide a user-friendly and affordable platform has been crucial to its success, and it has helped it to achieve its current valuation.

Canva’s impressive valuation is also a reflection of the current market trends. In recent years, there has been a significant shift towards digital marketing, and businesses are increasingly investing in tools that can help them create visually appealing content. Canva is well-positioned to capitalize on this trend, and it is expected to continue its growth trajectory in the coming years.

Canva Charity

Canva is a graphic design platform that has revolutionized the way individuals and businesses create professional-quality designs without the need for specialized skills or expensive software. One aspect that sets Canva apart from other design tools is their commitment to social impact through the Canva Charity program.

The Canva Charity program was established to support organizations that promote equality, education, and diversity. The program has donated millions of dollars in cash and in-kind support to various charities worldwide. The program is a reflection of Canva’s belief in the power of design to bring about positive social change.

Through the Canva Charity program, non-profit organizations can apply for a free Canva Pro account, which provides access to advanced design features, templates, and other design resources. This helps non-profits create professional designs for their promotional materials, without having to pay for expensive design software or services.

The Canva for Non-Profits program also offers free educational resources to non-profits to help them improve their design skills and create high-quality visuals that effectively communicate their message. Canva also works with selected non-profit partners to help them design impactful social media campaigns and share their stories with a wider audience.

Canva’s commitment to social impact and charitable causes is rooted in their belief in the power of design to bring about positive change. They recognize the importance of providing tools and resources to non-profit organizations, enabling them to create professional-looking designs that help them promote their mission and cause.

In addition to their social impact initiatives, Canva has also been successful in generating revenue through their premium subscription-based model. The Canva Pro subscription offers advanced design tools, team collaboration features, and access to a vast library of premium images, templates, and fonts. The company’s success can also be attributed to their ability to pivot and adapt to the needs of their users and the design industry at large.

In 2021, Canva was valued at $40 billion, making it one of the world’s most valuable private companies. This valuation is a testament to the platform’s success in providing a user-friendly, cost-effective solution to graphic design, and the company’s ability to innovate and stay ahead of trends.

How To Use Canva For Business Design? 

As the world shifts more and more towards digital communication, businesses are increasingly turning to design platforms like Canva to create stunning and professional-looking graphics for their branding and marketing campaigns. Whether you’re a startup founder or a small business owner, knowing how to use Canva can give your brand the edge it needs to stand out from the competition. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about using Canva for business design, including when to use it, the difference between the free and pro versions, setting up your brand, and the best Canva hacks to save you time and effort. 

When To Use Canva

Canva is a versatile design tool that can be used for a variety of business purposes, such as creating marketing materials, social media posts, presentations, infographics, and more. If you’re looking to create professional-looking graphics without having to hire a graphic designer or invest in expensive design software, Canva is an excellent choice. It’s easy to use, has a wide range of templates to choose from, and you can create graphics in minutes, even if you have no prior design experience.

Free vs Pro Canva

Canva offers both a free and a paid (pro) version of the platform. While the free version is suitable for most basic design needs, the pro version has additional features that can be useful for businesses, such as access to more templates, the ability to create custom fonts, and the option to upload your own fonts. The pro version also offers the ability to create team templates and collaborate with other team members, which can be useful if you have a larger marketing or design team. However, it’s important to note that the free version of Canva is still an excellent choice for businesses on a budget, as it has a wide range of templates and features that can help you create professional-looking graphics.

Setting Up Your Brand

Before you start designing, it’s important to set up your brand on Canva. This includes uploading your logo and choosing your brand colors, fonts, and imagery. You can do this by going to the “Brand Kit” tab on the left-hand side of the screen and entering your brand details. Once your brand is set up, you can easily access your brand assets when creating new designs, which can save you time and ensure consistency across all of your marketing materials.

The Canva Tools

Canva has a wide range of tools and features that can be used to create professional-looking designs. Here are some of the most useful tools to get you started:

  • Templates: Canva has a wide range of templates for different design needs, such as social media graphics, presentations, and posters. You can customize these templates to suit your brand and design needs.
  • Elements: Canva has a large library of design elements, including icons, illustrations, and stock photos. These can be used to add visual interest to your designs.
  • Text: Canva offers a variety of text options, including fonts, colors, and styles. You can also add effects like shadows and gradients to your text.
  • Backgrounds: Canva has a wide range of background options, including solid colors, gradients, and images. You can also upload your own images to use as backgrounds.
  • Uploads: Canva allows you to upload your own images and graphics to use in your designs. This can be useful if you have existing branding or imagery that you want to incorporate into your designs.

10 Best Canva Hacks

Here are some Canva hacks that can save you time and effort when designing:

  • Use keyboard shortcuts to speed up your workflow. For example, pressing “Ctrl + C” and “Ctrl + V” can quickly copy and paste elements.
  • Group elements together to move and resize them as a single unit. This can be useful if you want to move multiple elements at once or resize them to the same dimensions. To group elements, select them by clicking and dragging your mouse over them, then right-click and select “Group.”
  • Use the “Snap to Grid” feature to align elements with precision. This feature helps you to ensure that your designs are visually balanced and professional-looking. To turn on “Snap to Grid,” go to the “View” menu and select “Snap to Grid.”
  • Use the “Magic Resize” feature to quickly resize designs for different platforms. For example, you can create a design for Instagram and then use “Magic Resize” to quickly resize it for Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms. To use this feature, select your design and go to the “File” menu and select “Magic Resize.”
  • Use the “Brand Kit” feature to ensure consistency across your designs. This feature allows you to store your brand colors, fonts, and imagery in one place, making it easy to access them when creating new designs.
  • Use the “Copy Style” feature to quickly apply the same style to multiple elements. For example, if you want to apply the same font style to several elements, you can select one element, right-click, and select “Copy Style.” Then, select the other elements and right-click again and select “Paste Style.”
  • Use the “Duplicate Page” feature to quickly create variations of your designs. For example, if you have a design for a poster and want to create variations with different text or images, you can use “Duplicate Page” to quickly create copies of your original design.
  • Use the “Transparent Background” feature to remove the background from an image. This can be useful if you want to place an image on a colored background or use it in a design without a background. To use this feature, select your image and go to the “Effects” menu and select “Background Remover.”
  • Use the “Custom Dimensions” feature to create designs in non-standard sizes. This can be useful if you have specific design requirements for a project. To use this feature, go to the “File” menu and select “Custom Dimensions.”
  • Use the “Export as PDF” feature to save your designs in a print-ready format. This feature allows you to save your designs as high-quality PDFs, which can be used for printing and other professional applications. To use this feature, go to the “File” menu and select “Export as PDF.”

Canva is an excellent tool for businesses of all sizes to create professional-looking designs for their marketing and branding needs. Whether you’re using the free or pro version of the platform, setting up your brand and using the right tools and features can help you create stunning designs in a matter of minutes. By using the Canva hacks mentioned above, you can save time and effort and create designs that are visually engaging and on-brand. 

So why not give Canva a try and take your business design to the next level?


Canva is a design platform that has revolutionized the way individuals and businesses create professional-looking designs. The company’s commitment to social impact through the Canva Charity program reflects its belief in the power of design to bring about positive change. 

Through this program, non-profit organizations can access the advanced design features of Canva Pro for free, empowering them to create visually compelling materials that help them promote their mission and cause. 

With its success in generating revenue through its subscription-based model and their ability to pivot and adapt to industry trends, Canva is poised to continue its growth and success in the years to come.