Sydney-based graphic design startup Canva has raised a further $20 million ($US15 million) in funding as it aims take on the might of Microsoft Office.

It comes just a year after the tech company raised the same amount, and the latest capital injection also comes from the same group of investors, led by Silicon Valley-based firm Felicis Ventures and Australian VC firm Blackbird Ventures.

Thanks to rapid growth in the business and revenue, Canva’s valuation has more than doubled to $456 million ($US345 million) with the latest funding round.

Canva has now raised over $57 million ($US40 million) in total.

Canva founder Melanie Perkins says the fundraising process is unrecognisable from the company’s early days.

“It was an incredible contrast to the early days,” Perkins tells StartupSmart.

“For our first round it was three years from meeting the first investors to getting that investment. For our last round we had five firms fly to Australia.

“That was a year ago and there has only been more interest from investors. We’ve been able to choose investors that we’ve really loved working with and deepen our relationships with them. They understand our vision and what we’re trying to achieve.”

A $40 million war chest

After launching three years ago, Canva now has 10 million users across 179 countries and has seen 100 million designs created through its graphics platform.

Despite this large reach, Perkins says things are just getting started for the Aussie tech company.

“It’s still very, very early days for Canva, and there’s a long road ahead towards becoming the platform that powers the modern workforce,” she says.

“We have 10 million users but there are over 3 billion users on the internet right now.”

The company is yet to spend any of the funds from last year’s raise, she says, with Canva now boasting a near-$40 million war chest to reinvest in the product and help it to rapidly expand.

“We’re excited to be able to quadruple down on all of our plans and put money towards product and growth,” Perkins says.

“Our goal is to enable everyone across the global to create beautiful visual content and communicate ideas very easily.”

Canva is benefitting a global trend towards visuals over text in the business world, Perkins says.

“Every profession across the whole world has become more visual at a very increasing rate,” she says.

“Text heavy documents used to be the way, but now they’re a lot more visual. We’ve really been able to ride that wave. It’s a really great time to be doing what we’re doing – so many people need us.”

The third birthday

Canva recently celebrated its third birthday on the back of releasing its first smartphone app, and she says this provided an opportunity to finally reflect on the rapid growth of the business.

“I spend most of my time looking at the next mountain peak we’re trying to conquer, but occasionally I’ll look down and see how far we’ve come, and that’s pretty insane,” Perkins says.

“It’s pretty cool to be able to reflect on the journey over the last three years. So many things have to change as you grow rapidly, but it’s important to keep the essence the same.”

For other local founders, Perkins says it’s important to block out the distractions and focus on the core offering of the company.

“You can look at company valuations and their millions of users and it can be very easy to get disillusioned and think that other people have it easy,” she says.

“I can certainly attest to that not being the case. It’s been 10 years since we had the initial idea and I’ve had lots of trials, lots of rejection and lots of pain since then. The most important thing is to solve a problem that really matters and to care about delivering as much value to users as possible.

“It’s easy to focus on the wrong things. It’s really important to stay true to solving things that are actual problems in the world.”

Since its launch in 2013, the startup ecosystem has evolved rapidly around Canva.

“When we first started our first company 10 years ago I had never even heard of startups or VCs, I was just trying to solve a problem,” Perkins says.

“Now there’s a thriving tech scene and it’s starting to get a lot of international interest.”

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