Canva launched in 2013 on a mission to empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere.
Since then, the online design and publishing tool has become the quintessential Australian startup success story.
When we first met Canva’s founders Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adam, we saw the early signs that this was the start of something special:=
An A+ team: While they were at uni, Mel and Cliff were the founders of an online school yearbook design product called Fusion Books. It was the first step in Mel’s “crazy, big dream”. We observed a team with a unique mix of product, growth, and technical capabilities that made us believe they had the right skillsets to scale the business.
A market with limitless potential: With the vision to be the next generation of design and publishing, we knew Canva wouldn’t be constrained by market size.
Traction in all its forms: Canva had a large, growing audience of engaged users and power users. They were also onboarding new users at a phenomenal rate, we’re publishing loads of new designs and had created a sticky product experience with a diverse use case.
Today, Canva empowers more than 60 million people across 190 countries every month. 120 designs are created every second!
But what’s most impressive about Canva, is the team’s desire to do good. A core part of Canva’s DNA is their Two-Step plan:
Become one of the most valuable companies in the world.
Do the most good we can.
Their incredible progress towards Step 1 has brought Step 2 into focus recently. They bring this to life through their company values and the 1% pledge, which has seen them giveaway their premium product for free to over 130k not-for-profits and allocate more than 45,000 volunteering hours each year.
Mel and Cliff have also committed the vast majority of their equity – 30% of Canva – to do good in the world through the Canva Foundation.
We can’t wait to see where the journey with Canva takes us next.
“AirTree believed in our vision early and backed us in our Series A when we were pre-revenue. They have supported us in every round since. We appreciate that as investors who were ex-founders, they have the empathy to understand when to jump in to help when we need and when to step back when we don’t.” Cliff Obrecht, Cofounder & COO
Cardly is helping the world keep it personal with handwritten mail sent without lifting a pen.
Linktree makes your online content more discoverable, easier to manage and more likely to convert.
It all started in 2016 when Linktree’s founder Alex Zaccaria, Anthony Zaccaria and Nick Humphreys were running their digital agency, Bolster. After feeling the pain of endlessly updating singular bio links, the first iteration of Linktree emerged overnight.
We believe that Linktree represents the social future of commerce. Linktree will empower creators to sell to their fans, friends and family without friction. It’s their user’s personal front page.
There were a few things that stood out to us when we first invested in Linktree:
Consumers were using “a Linktree” as a noun. Their community were vocal in support of the brand, solidifying their position as the leading ‘link-in bio’ product.
The product looks simple at the outset, and that’s intentional. The elegant simplicity of it UI showed us the depth of their product thinking, and their laser focus on a delightful user experience with more functionality and integrations at the users’ fingertips when they need it.
Their integrations with YouTube, Twitch and Mailchimp. We saw the start of an exciting roadmap designed to help creators grow and monetise their audiences online.
These were all compelling proof points, given the company was bootstrapped and had spent very little on marketing. Their secret sauce? Focus on the problem you’re solving:
“I often get asked, what are the growth hacks we used or marketing tips. And there’s none. We didn’t spend a cent on marketing until well past 4 million users. And it was very much just about solving users’ problems. Focus on the product, and it still is that. It’s just all about the product.” Alex Zaccaria, Cofounder & CEO, Linktree
Sally and the Lived team are on a mission to change the conversation around addiction and improve the way people with addiction access and experience support.
Kim Teo, Adrian Osman, Kerry Osborn & Andrei Miulescu
Mr Yum is a mobile menu that customers order and pay from, designed specifically for hospitality and entertainment venues.
Mr Yum is the brainchild of Kim Teo, Kerry Osborn, Andrei Miulescu and Adrian Osman. Traditional, text-based menus hadn’t changed with the times, and they saw an opportunity to create a digital menu that would be much more visual, interesting and appealing.
We first invested in Mr Yum’s post-seed round and doubled down on their Series A. From the very start, they had all the ingredients we look for in an early-stage startup:
A team that’s equal parts vision and execution: Their passion and bias towards action is unfailing, making them one of the fastest-growing startups we’ve seen. And this growth is coupled with a focus on their culture, aligning the team around shared values that have been the glue holding everything together as they’ve scaled rapidly.
Market tailwinds: After decades of paying cash and ordering from paper menus, the power of QR codes for contactless ordering and payment has been embraced thanks to a rapid acceleration in the change of consumer behaviour due to COVID. Customers love it, and restaurants and venues improve their profit margins by 10-15% using Mr Yum.
Thinking global from day one: After spotting a window of opportunity to expand internationally, they were quick to get feet on the ground, launching in the US and UK simultaneously to establish themselves as the market-leader.
We believe great teams build great products, and that combination gives you the best opportunity to win the market. Mr Yum has this in spades. Their experimental culture around the product and hiring entrepreneurial people is what has gotten Mr Yum to where they are today.
“Typically, you hear stories of engineers being cautious, pushing back on timeframes, then building a business case around why they want to build that product. We didn’t have that problem at all — we have a team who wants to do stuff they believe in, without over-engineering it. Andrei thinks 10x on me. When we were building five menus at a time, he’d be like, “How do we build 100 menus at a time and then 1,000 at a time?”. Kim Teo, Cofounder & CEO, Mr Yum
Chris and Iain are on a mission to convert conversations into meaningful outcomes with AI.