This 32-year-old tech start-up founder wants would-be entrepreneurs to know 2 things

She founded a $1 billion start-up by 30. Now she's taking on the tech giants
She founded a $1 billion start-up by 30. Now she's taking on the tech giants

At 32, Melanie Perkins is one of the world's youngest female tech unicorn founders.

Her online design start-up Canva was recently propelled to new heights after closing an $85 million funding round, earning it a valuation of $3.2 billion and scoring Perkins and her fiancé and co-founder, Cliff Obrecht, a place on Australia's Young Rich List.

But it was a long and challenging climb for the Australian entrepreneur, who set out on her vision to take on the tech titans and reinvent the design industry at just 19, as she recently told CNBC Make It.

"I thought this would be done in like two years … that we would have done the entire vision. I hasn't been quite that easy!" Perkins said.

Canva co-founder and CEO, Melanie Perkins.

That uphill journey – filled with false starts, rejection and funding hurdles – is par for the course for most founders, said Perkins, who was keen to dispel the common misconception of entrepreneurs as overnight successes.

"It's hard work," she said. "But it's hard for absolutely everyone. Everyone's going to have trials and tribulations and rejections."

"I've never met a founder that's had it easy and had everything handed to them on a silver platter," Perkins continued. "It takes a lot of time and energy and effort. But that's part and parcel of it, I think."

All that hard work and patience can pay off if you're truly determined, insisted Perkins, who is now in her 13th year as an entrepreneur.

"The other thing it's really important to know is that it's possible," the CEO added. "I think if you work hard enough, eventually you can get there."

Perkins said the latest funding round will see her double down on Canva's premium services, Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise, bringing the company ever-closer to competing with the professional design tools of Microsoft and Adobe.

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