How networking helped a ‘unicorn’
Networking is the business equivalent of making your own ‘luck’.
The more connections you make, the more opportunities you have to grow your business — often in unexpected ways.
In 2008 Melanie Perkins was a student at the University of Western Australia and a finalist in WA’s Inventor of the Year Awards, after developing a simple graphic design platform for school yearbooks.
At an awards lunch, Perkins was introduced to visiting US venture capitalist Bill Tai.
She kept in touch with the gregarious, kite-boarding businessman.
And four years later, when Perkins expanded her original design idea, Tai, along with a host of big names at Facebook, Yahoo! and Seek came on board as major investors in her multi-million dollar start-up Canva.
The graphic design platform now boasts more than 10.7 million users worldwide. In January 2018, it became one of only a handful of Australian companies to become a ‘unicorn’ – a private company worth more than US$1 billion.
While Perkins, and her partners Cliff Obrecht and Cameron Adams, have well and truly grown beyond “small business’’ status, the early lessons they learned are universal.
Network at every opportunity because you never know when those connections, knowledge or insights will come in handy.
“That short chat with Bill Tai has had an incredible domino effect,” Perkins once said of the connections she made through meeting Tai in 2008.
“Network as much as you can, gather as much knowledge as you can and then apply it all to your company.”