May 19, 2024

Innovation & Tech Today


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Women Innovate! Melanie Perkins and Canva

In my sophomore year of college, I planned a “Wellness Week” for the University of Colorado Boulder, and consequently needed to create a social media advertisement for every one of those 10+ events. I had never touched graphic arts in my life, let alone experimented with the many ways to make an advertisement succinctly visually appealing. So, I scrambled around the Internet a little bit, looking for some help.

If I hadn’t come across Canva, I may have resorted to colored pencils and printer paper. This was one of the many moments I was thankful that someone had come before me, recognizing a deficit, and created something to bridge the gap. Here’s what Canva does: You are first able to choose what graphic you’d like to design….

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And from there, you are provided with a plethora of templates with enticing images and fonts. It’s a creativity genius – it hands the creator the baton, urging, “here’s all the materials, now make this what you want.” I’ve used this software for anything and everything since – and not just for social media purposes! I made a card for my mom on Mother’s Day with the same templates.

So who is the mastermind behind it?

Meet Melanie Perkins. Canva isn’t her first rodeo. When she was still in college, she created “Fusion Books” – a yearbook design company that met such unprecedented success, she had to drop out of classes. But it was during her time at her university that she first had the Canva idea. While tutoring other students in graphic design, she realized there should be some software that simplifies the process for them. Even as students became more comfortable with their graphic design skills, she noticed there was a lack of confidence. And to be truly creative, we must master the confidence to express it. “I realized the future of design was going to be simpler, online, and collaborative,” she told me. With the help of her boyfriend Cliff, they launched Canva – her first tech startup.

I had to ask, because she was so young when she first had these ideas and acted upon them, what she accredits her empowerment to. It’s no secret that many women don’t feel empowered to just go ahead and start something that has never been done before. She shared that it’s her love for “sheer determination” – a quality that has been hers all her life – whether it be in debating or speaking competitions, figure skating, the Tournament of the Minds… she threw her entire self in and kept her eyes on the prize. Recognizing the power of determination puts the power in our hands. If we are determined to succeed, we’re halfway there. “I learnt that if I worked really, really hard I would usually succeed or at least learn a lot along the way.” Canva’s been up and running for three years, but she shared it’s been in the works for ten. Perusing Canva will confirm this. It is diligently done, with attention to detail and emphasis on originality. It’s the product of determination.

She’s not just a role model for her life philosophy, but for her business philosophy – she advises that the first step to entrepreneurship is finding a problem that needs to be solved (and boy did she do that!)… and the second step is getting started. Whether you succeed or fail, you’ll learn a lot along the way. You just have to get the ball rolling. And, if you can use Canva to create your advertisements, you have a pretty good start. 

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By I&T Today

Innovation & Tech Today features a wide variety of writers on tech, science, business, sustainability, and culture. Have an idea? Send it to

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