Canva announces additional $6 million funding as it prepares to take on Adobe and Microsoft with ‘Canva for Work’

- May 4, 2015 4 MIN READ

Online design platform Canva, founded by Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams, has just announced that it has taken on an additional US$6 million (AU$7.67 million) in its third round of funding, bringing the total amount raised by the Sydney startup to US$12 million.

The round was led by four investment firms, including existing investors Silicon Valley’s Matrix partners and Shasta Ventures, as well as Asia-Pacific based firms Blackbird Ventures and new to the Canva family AirTree Ventures.

“We really wanted to support the investors who supported us earlier on in the piece,” says Perkins on existing investors that came back to the table for this round. “We’ve had a lot of interest in Canva since we launched from both the [United States] and Australia and Airtree was one of those firms where we really liked the guys and we wanted to work with them”.

The platform now claims to have over 2.4 million users that have created more than 18.5 million designs. Given the company only announced hitting the 2 million user mark a few weeks ago, to say the startup has entered a stage of exponential user-growth is a bit of an understatement.

Canva stated that its growth has been driven by a vocal fan base of content creators with backgrounds in marketing, blogging and design. The startup also said that 65% of its current user base has signed up to the platform in the last six months.

Tod Francis, Managing Director at Shasta Ventures, said his firm is looking forward to seeing what Canva will be doing as it begins to focus on the business sector in its next phase of growth.

“We’ve been impressed with Canva’s growth and the team’s execution on what is a mammoth vision. Canva has taken off with people around the world. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with the team as they focus on redefining how design is done in the workplace,” says Francis.

Last week, in an article, I mentioned that Canva was one of a handful of Australian and New Zealand grown startups that has the potential to become the next local ‘unicorn’ company reaching a billion dollar valuation figure. Perkins declined to comment on the current company valuation, but seeing as this current round is not considered a Series A, rather an extension of the company’s previous two rounds of seed funding, it looks like things are following the pattern I suggested it would in order to reach the billion dollar valuation down the track.

In addition to the funding announcement, Canva also announced Canva for Work which it will launch to the public next month. This new iteration of the Canva design platform has been created to cater to the needs of over 200,000 business users that are on the platform. In fact, over 250,000 different domains have been registered on Canva, which is how the team has been able to identify exactly which businesses are using the current version of the platform and what they are using it for. Some organisations have up to 180 employees using the platform according to data that Canva has analysed.

“It’s incredible that people create one design per second with Canva. We’ve had an incredible amount of enquiries from entrepreneurs to fortune 500 companies [that have] been asking for certain [features]. I guess just because of the technology that is now available, pretty much every single profession has changed,” says Perkins.

“People in marketing are having to create social media graphics for every single platform under the sun. Sales people across every single profession need to create presentations, pitch decks and sales proposals, design has become very important for every single profession. [More people than ever before now have] to create visual content”.

Perkins told Startup Daily that “Canva for Work” will be a product that will change the way every business is able to operate when it comes to design. A survey that Canva recently conducted with 500 small and medium sized businesses indicates that 87% of those companies wished that design was more efficient at their company and 78% said that they had people in their organisations that were not professional designers creating customer facing materials like social media graphics, presentations and sales and marketing materials – something that makes it difficult to adhere to any branding guidelines that may be in place.

Although the finer details of what the features of “Canva for Work” will actually be and its capabilities are being kept under lock and key by the company, what Startup Daily was able to find out was that it will be a subscription-based service with ‘accessible pricing’, which is the philosophy that the Canva platform has been built on.

Interestingly, this is also the first time that anyone from Canva, let alone Perkins, the CEO, has ever publicly mentioned their competitors in a media release or interview. The fact that today’s announcement says, “As the world becomes an increasingly visual place, the existing tools provided by Microsoft and Adobe no longer meet the needs of companies where everyone has to create high quality graphics and express their ideas visually” is actually quite a significant statement by Perkins. Why? Because it means that Canva is ready to play hard ball in a space that is pretty dominated by Adobe.

To give you some insight, Adobe revealed in its blog in March that it now has just under 4 million paid subscribers to its Creative Cloud platform and has been growing at a rate of 50,000 customers per week. While Canva may have well over 2 million users, at the moment it has zero paying subscribers. Once “Canva for Work” goes live there will certainly be an influx of sign-ups, but the startup will still face a number of challenges in converting Adobe users over to the “Canva for Work” platform exclusively.

This is because Adobe’s Creative Cloud includes features such as video and audio editing among a host of other products and features. Having said that, Canva’s trump card has always been its simple user interface and intuitive user experience. If it can bring that simplistic ease of use over to a feature rich, commercially sound platform that allows companies to produce their design tasks efficiently and effectively, then Canva may just do in the world of design what “Google Apps for Work” did in the spaces of email, communication and storage.