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Startups

Australian unicorn Canva targets China, India and Brazil

Already profitable design tool provider in no hurry to list or take another exit

Canva provides the go-to tool for crafting customizable business logos, street event posters and everything in between.(Photo courtesy of Canva)

SINGAPORE -- Canva, a Sydney-headquartered graphic design unicorn, will look at deepening its footprint in key markets such as China, India and Brazil as it pushes its growth ambitions in niche customer segments in enterprise and education.

Canva's graphic design tool is known to be the go-to tool for crafting customizable designs for everything from business logos to street event posters.

Today, 7-year-old Canva is the country's only known privately held company worth over $1 billion. Australia's "listed unicorns" are Atlassian, a Nasdaq-listed enterprise software company; and Nearmap, an ASX-listed aerial imaging company.

According to a report by The Australia Financial Review, Canva was valued at $2.5 billion (A$3.6 billion) after its most recent $70 million Series D round joined by U.S. investors, General Catalyst, Mary Meeker's debut fund Bond, as well as existing investors Felicis Ventures and Blackbird Ventures.

Canva says it has barely scratching the surface. In the coming months, it will roll out new features and products that cater to niche customer segments in enterprise and education.

Video will also be a key growth area. Three months ago, Canva added a video segment for users to serve branding needs in social media. It also runs Canva Pro, a subscription-based service geared toward small and medium-size businesses.

The company has made key strategic moves, too -- including nailing two major acquisitions, Pexels and PixaBay, to strengthen its photography arm.

It has been offering its design tools in more than 100 languages globally since the end of 2017.

"Enterprise is definitely a big area for us," said Cameron Adams, co-founder, and chief product officer of Canva.

"We're focusing on launching Canvas Enterprise soon, and that really focuses on large team corporates that are dealing with all their brand and design assets. These companies work with huge marketing teams that need to scale and localize marketing all around the world."

China, in particular, is a market Adams believes will take to Canva's enterprise product well. He added that Canva managed to break into the Chinese market via its investor Sequoia Capital China. Today, it runs an on-ground team of 50 in Beijing which focuses on customizing and creating content for local platforms like WeChat.

(Left to Right)The founders of Canva. Cliff Obrecht ,Melanie Perkins and Cameron Adams. (Photo courtesy of Canva)

"There are obviously technical barriers to operating a service in China, [but] we try and keep the technology centralized as much as possible. A lot of the infrastructure is from Canva's English code base, and we just customize it accordingly," said Adams, a former user interface designer at Google.

Adams did not disclose Canva's revenues but acknowledged that while the U.S. is its largest market, China will be a key growth market moving forward. The company will also hunker down on India and Brazil -- two highly populated, emerging markets which Adams believes will take to its education and enterprise products.

Adams didn't rule out a public listing on THE NASDAQ or ASX at some point down the road but acknowledged that the team hasn't quite figured out its exit route yet.

"I came from Google, and I've seen plenty of really bad acquisitions and I just feel that particularly at the size we're at and the growth path that we're on, getting bought by another company isn't particularly appealing," said Adams.

Canva is in no rush anyway. Adams said the company is already profitable, with "infinite runway" at the moment. Its fundraises have merely been strategic bets to build a war chest for potentially "bigger pushes" in the future.

Canva's shareholders are General Catalyst, Mary Meeker's debut Bond fund, Sequoia Capital China, Felicis Ventures, Blackbird Ventures, and other angel investors.

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