Growth Hacking Tactics to Get 10M Users in 3 Years (Without Paid Ads): An Interview with Melanie Perkins

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Today, we’re excited to bring you our interview with Melanie Perkins, founder of Canva — a company that helps people create well designed documents and graphics through their simple drag & drop interface.

She talks about how she built Canva from 1,000 to 10 million users in just 3 years, without spending any money on ads. 

We also asked her about the unconventional strategies she used to raise venture funding for Canva, how she hired world class employees for her tech team, and more.

Free Bonus Download: Get this checklist of 29 Growth Hacking Quick Wins you can use to grow your user base (even without a marketing budget)! Click here to download for free.

Canva's Story: Growth Hacking from 1K to 10M Users 

Eric Siu: What does [your] story look like? How did you settle into Canva?

Melanie Perkins: I was at university and I was teaching design programs and students would struggle learning the very basics. It would take a very long time just to design and learn where the buttons were let alone actually how to actually design anything.

And so what I wanted to do was to make design really simple and easy.

So we had this big grand vision of how we were going to make the entire design ecosystem, integrated into one page. But the funny thing was I was 19 and had absolutely no business experience, or experience learning software or anything like that. So rather than trying to take on the entire world of design at the same time, my boyfriend became my business partner. And we took over my mom's living room and launched the big concept but for the niche market of school year books in Australia.

And I think that was really fortunate because rather than trying to take on a huge market, we were able to really concentrate our efforts in one area and do really well at that. So that grew very quickly, expanded across Australia, launched in France and New Zealand. And a few years into that we really wanted to take Canva to the next level.Melanie-Perkins-300x300

We realized there was still nothing in the market that enabled everyone to design everything, and so wanted to take that concept to a much broader market. And so we set out on the adventures of Canva, which took a very very long time. But [at first] we thought, ‘Oh we've got a possible company. We've been able to do this before. Raising money would be really easy to take on this bigger market.' That definitely wasn't the case.

[We] ended up spending a very long time in San Francisco — three months firstly living on my brother's floor, trying to pitch investors, pitch technical co-founders. And then it was another year later that we actually ended up finally raising investment, which was three years after meeting our first investor. So it was a very long time in the making. And then once we finally landed our technical team, landed investment, it was another year of development before we launched Canva. We launched Canva just over three years ago, and fortunately it's been growing very very rapidly across the globe.

Free Bonus Download: Get this checklist of 29 Growth Hacking Quick Wins you can use to grow your user base (even without a marketing budget)! Click here to download for free.