May 19, 2020

China’s WeChat and the impact on Australian businesses

Australia China trade
WeChat
Addie Thomes
3 min
China’s WeChat and the impact on Australian businesses

China’s largest social media platform, WeChat (or Weixin in China), has gone mainstream in Australia and is creating significant opportunities for Australian businesses.   

Initially embraced by Australia’s large Chinese community as a tool to communicate and stay connected with friends and family back in China, many local Chinese are now using the platform to purchase goods and services.   

This is providing savvy Australian businesses with the capacity to utilise WeChat to engage with Chinese consumers.  

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Dr Mathew McDougall, the founder of DaigouSales.com, a WeChat eMarketplace, explains the impact this has had on his company and other Australian enterprises looking to do business with Chinese consumers…

“WeChat has over 963mn monthly active users, with about 3mn WeChat users living in Australia. For brands looking to engage with Chinese consumers there is no better platform to leverage than WeChat. 

“DaigouSales.com allows Australian brands to sell directly into China via locally based Chinese WeChat users who buy on behalf of their friends and relatives back in China. DaigouSales.com handles the eStore management and cross border shipping so Australian businesses can concentrate on creating great products”.

“Given the status of Australia as being clean, green and safe, many Chinese are opting to source goods from our market. In a study conducted by the Hurun Report and the Shenzhen Catic Wellness Group, it was found that on average Chinese mainlanders are spending a quarter of the family’s monthly budget on health care products alone.

“This is not to mention mainland Chinese looking to buy an increasing wider variety of products. Over the past few years we have seen daigou focus on infant formula, vitamins and supplements but in 2017 we increasingly saw daigou looking to source products such as clothing, essential oils, uniquely Australian skin care and cosmetics to jewellery. 

“According to research we conducted in 2017, the daigou community is mostly made up of females aged between 30 and 39, which is closely followed by the 20 to 29 age bracket. They purchase and ship products from Australia on behalf of their personal contacts back in mainland China. We found in our survey the most crucial points of trade considered are the quality of the products, the price, followed by the brand awareness.

“China represents a huge market for Australian businesses and more and more SMEs are looking at exporting their goods and services to China. Since launching, we have already we have helped over 75 brands put strategies in place to export to China via DaigouSales.com.

“Selling into China is not always a simple task and over the years I have seen many businesses lack the knowledge to properly connect with the local daigou community. This is why DaigouSales.com acts as a buffer between the two sides to help successful business relationships grow.

“When launching DaigouSales.com, I coined the term, D2C, to help companies conceptualise the powerful channel known as daigou that can assist them in the marketing, promotion and ultimately the sales of their brands in China. The Australian daigou community is a billion dollar market and growing for Australian businesses.”

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Apr 29, 2021

C-suite spotight: Melanie Perkins, CEO, Canva

Canva
Australia
csuite
Leadership
Kate Birch
4 min
In our regular C-suite spotlight for APAC, we profile co-founder and CEO of Australian unicorn Canva, tech entrepreneur and billionaire Melanie Perkins
In our regular C-suite spotlight for APAC, we profile co-founder and CEO of Australian unicorn Canva, tech entrepreneur and billionaire Melanie Perkins...

Who is Melanie Perkins?

She’s the co-founder and CEO of Australian unicorn online design platform Canva, who ultimately became one of tech’s youngest female CEOs, at just 30, and recently became a billionaire aged 35, making her one of Australia’s richest and youngest. 

Why is she in the spotlight right now?

Because less than a year after securing a US$6bn valuation during the pandemic, which provided a big boost to business, Canva has recently more than doubled its valuation, securing a $15bn valuation, which makes Perkins a billionaire, according to Forbes. The valuation comes in the wake of a new funding round in the first week of April 2021 led by T. Rowe Price and Dragoneer and raising $71m. At the same time, Canva announced its business has passed $500m in annualised revenue, up 130% from the year before. 

What is Canva and why is it so successful?

Launched in 2013 by co-founders Melanie Perkins (CEO), Cliff Obrecht (COO) and Cameron Adams (Chief Product Officer), Sydney-headquartered Canva is a free-to-use online graphic design product that allows users to create everything from social media graphics to presentations and other visual content, as well as offering paid subscriptions like Canva Pro and Canva for Enterprise, with 3 million of its now 55 million users taking paid subscriptions. 

Accruing 750,000 users in its first year, following a number of rounds of investment including from Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital in 2019 and this month’s massive funding round, Canva now boasts 55 million users across 190 countries, with offices in Sydney, Beijing, Manila, and most recently Austin, Texas, and is valued at $3.2 billion. 

And while the company was originally most popular with SMEs, helping them draft and design print and digital assets, it’s since grown to become a real-time collaboration suite that’s being used by big firms including McKinsey, Salesforce and American Airlines. In fact, Canva claims that 85% of Fortune 500 companies use the platform’s services. They continue to add new features and during the pandemic, added presenter video recording tools. 

How did Perkins get there?

The idea of Canva came to Perkins when she was at the university of Perth, where to earn money on the side she taught students design programmes. Many of her students found platforms like Adobe complicated and frustrating, and the ideas came to her to simplify and democratise design, to make it more approachable and accessible, more collaborative, and ultimately to empower all in design. So, she and university peer Cliff Obrecht, who became Canva co-founder and Perkins’ husband, created an online school yearbook design business, Fusion Yearbooks, to test it out. Operating from her mum’s living room, the yearbook design business was a massive success, expanding to New Zealand and France, and remains the largest yearbook publisher in Australia. 

However, Perkins did not give up on her dream to create a one-stop-shop design site and at one point spent three months living with her brother in San Francisco where she pitched to more than 100 venture capitalists, all of whom rejected Canva. It was following a chance encounter at a conference in Perth with Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Tai, Perkins was winning over major investors including Hollywood celebrities Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson and building out Canva’s design platform with a fast-growing team of tech engineers and a high-profile tech advisor, Lars Rasmussen who co-founded Google Maps. 

It was in 2012 when things really kicked off however when Perkins and Obrecht found a tech co-founder in Cameron Adams. The same year, they closed their first funding round, which was oversubscribed and raised $1.5m, with Canva going live in 2013. In 2019, an $85m funding round led by Silicon Valley investor Mary Meeker’s Bond Capital gave the company a valuation of $3.2bn, before the most recent funding around in April 2021 leading to a valuation of $15bn. 

In her own words… 

"I think it's pretty important to know that every single person is going through their own trials and tribulations. Knowing that it's tricky for everyone, that any adventure will be filled with rejections and littered with obstacles – somehow makes the adventure a little less lonely. And it's most important for people who feel like they are on the outside to know this."

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