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Updated: Jul 4, 2021


Scale of Notoriety (how well-known they are) | Scale of Influence (how much they’ve impacted the world):

6/10. Don’t get me wrong, Canva is 10/10 in notoriety, but anyone who lives under a rock like me might not know the name of the woman behind the unicorn.

Target Status:

Happily Married and Extremely Successful floating between Perth and Sydney!


Originally from Perth in WA, Melanie has been teaching students how to use design programs since she was 19 years old. After a while, Melanie co-founded Fusion Books - a drag and drop tool simplifying Yearbook creation for students. Fusion Books quickly soared to the no 1. Platform for Yearbooks in both Australia and New Zealand in just 5 years!

At the age of 26, Melanie hopped on a flight from her hometown in Perth to Silicon Valley, home to some of the world biggest startup and tech companies. Her life has never been the same since.

Despite having no formal education background in design, her pitch has disrupted, revolutionised and democratised the world of design. After dropping out of university, Melanie is now the youngest billionaire in Australia and the CEO of Australia’s few Unicorn companies.

Genetic Make-up

While she prefers not to talk about her parents or siblings, Melanie has Asian heritage from the Philippines, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.

Beginning her career in the living room of her Australian-born mother and teacher, the space became her office and her Australian boyfriend became her business partner and co-founder.

Her father, however, was an engineer from Malaysia, who had both Filipino and Sri Lankan descent.

Her Lola (Filipino for Grandmother) was a Filipino.

Now as the third richest woman and youngest billionaire in Australia, Canva has branch offices in both Beijing and Makati.


  • We can unanimously agree that Melanie is THE definition of that cool kid who dropped out of Uni to become the next big CEO. Go girl!

  • Mastering the mind games: She tried to use what she learned from her psychology degree to impress Bill Tai by imitating his gestures- it certainly worked!

  • She was ranked the 3rd coolest person in Tech in 2016.

  • Masterful Entrepreneur: Apart from just being Asian and a smart cookie, what caught our attention about Melanie was her humble beginnings in selling scarves at the age of 14.


  • Melanie can’t start her day without a quick 5-minute journal and a scroll through Twitter. That’s a big mood.

  • Melanie and her lover and Co-Founder Cliff live modest lives. In fact, Cliff proposed to her in Turkey with a US$30 ring.

  • Real hometown gal, still based in Sydney even after becoming a global phenomenon.

Bonus Strength AND Weakness:

  • In order to gain the attention of investors, Melanie spent hours adrift on a kiteboard, waiting to be rescued after her sail had deflated. Her dangerous new hobby did in fact catch the attention of venture capitalist, Bill Tai and scored her investors from Hollywood. Do not replicate at home (or should you?)!

Special Talents:

  • Being an absolute icon and an inspiration to people of cultural background - and she has been referred to as an Australian- Filipina in multiple instances on media.

  • Mixed Heritage. Her father is Filipino And Malaysian And Sri Lankan.

  • Multitasking from her mum’s living room (and eventually finding a unicorn too).

  • In fact, her multitasking is at the next level: Melanie worked while studying three degrees - Communication, Psychology and Commerce.


Nadya Labiba is an Indonesian-Australian currently in her fourth year of Journalism and Languages and Cultures at University of Technology Sydney. Aside from interning at Captain Bagrat, Nadya is an avid community volunteer and a published contributor at Central News.

Instagram @nadrlabiba

Bevin Liu is an ABC (Australian-born Chinese) in every sense of the word. Thinking that her life was set on a law degree, she is now going into the third year of her undergraduate degree in Journalism and International Studies (Majoring in China). On top of occasionally dropping into Captain Bagrats, she is working as a journalist for a regional newspaper, as the planning editor for Central News and trying to balance it with her new responsibilities as a member of UTS’s Academic Board. She would dabble in her love for animals and strange things through the university’s Cat Society and StartUp Link in her spare time.


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