Category Archives: Design Business

Billion-dollar graphic design baby: Canva becomes Australia’s unicorn

Canva, a Sydney-based graphic design start-up, has become Australia’s latest tech “unicorn”, after closing a funding round valuing its operations at $US1 billion ($1.3 billion).

The company on Tuesday announced it had raised $US40 million from investors including the Chinese arm of vaunted Silicon Valley investment firm Sequoia Capital and existing shareholders Blackbird Ventures and Felicis Ventures.

Sydney-based Melanie Perkins has turned her graphic design start-up into a billion dollar business.

Co-founder Melanie Perkins said the company was profitable and didn’t need the money but was offered terms too good to refuse.

The startup, whose apps help advertisers and companies create banners, logos and presentations, plans to double its workforce of 250 staff over the next year, she added.

“It’d be crazy not to take it,” she said.

“We can grow our team as rapidly as we can and know that we’ve got the financial backing to make those decisions very easily.”

Canva’s latest round of funding makes it a ‘unicorn’, a private company valued at $US1 billion or more. That’s a rare startup success for Australia’s technology scene: only eight of its listed technology companies are worth more than $US1 billion compared with 18 companies in metals and mining alone, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In December, Melbourne based construction software firm Aconex agreed to be acquired by software giant Oracle for $1.6 billion.

In a column for Fairfax Media in 2015, Perkins said the idea for the company came to her while teaching at university in 2006. She also made the 2017 Young Rich List, with an estimated net worth of $128 million.

Canva’s shareholder register is literally star-studded. It has previously attracted funding from Hollywood stars Owen Wilson and Woody Harrelson and Lars Rasmussen of Google Maps and Wave fame, who Perkins said played a key role in the growth of the company.

“The second day I went to San Francisco, I pitched him the idea for Canva​, literally on paper pitch decks,” Perkins said.

We can grow our team as rapidly as we can and know that we’ve got the financial backing to make those decisions very easily

Canva co-founder Melanie Perkins

“Fortunately rather than thinking I was crazy, he helped us comb over resumes of all the people that were trying to get into our tech team, and he rejected every last one of them,”

According to Canva’s website, the service has more than 10 million users, who upload photos or select stock images and use preset filters and fonts to customise designs. It also links with printing providers who can create actual physical banners and displays.

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes.

Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes. Photo: Josh Robenstone

According to financial records lodged with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, Canva more than tripled revenue to $23.5 million and narrowed after-tax losses to $3.3 million in the 12 months ended June 2017.

“What this round really enables us to do is to have the jet power just to do absolutely anything that we need to do to make Canva awesome,” she said.

From http://www.smh.com.au/business/innovation/billiondollar-baby-canva-becomes-australias-latest-tech-unicorn-20180108-h0fd7d.html
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Designers Finally Have A Seat At The Table. Now What?

Companies are finally listening to designers, writes Google Ventures’ Kate Aronowitz.

Here’s what designers need to do now.

Follow Kate Aronowitz (LinkedIn)

 

Pinnacles of Innovation: Top Awards Programs for New Products

Are your products winning design, innovation, or breakthrough awards?

Dozens of companies and awards programs recognize new product innovations. The following five stand out. All five competitions are global with equal access. Any size company can afford to enter. Only products ready for commercial sale may compete. Achievement of any level of recognition is rewarded in the marketplace.

R&D 100 Awards: Since 1962, R&D Magazine has honored the top 100 innovations each year. The awards program encompasses five areas: mechanical devices/materials; IT/electrical; analytical/test; process/prototyping; and software/services. Additionally, a number of special recognition awards are bestowed for market-disrupting services, market-disrupting products, corporate social responsibility, and green tech. The key criterion for winning is technological significance. Judges from industry, services, and academia award points to each innovation, with the top 100 scores making the list. Notable among the 2017 winners and Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (9).

The International Design Excellence Awards: Since 1980, theIndustrial Designers Society of America has been giving out Gold, Silver, and Bronze IDEA awards. IDEA awards span many industries and disciplines including: commercial products; entertainment; home goods; and social impact designs. Additionally, there are personal recognition awards and special awards for individuals and companies, respectively, and several more. The key criteria to win are design innovation, user experience, client benefit, society benefit, and appropriate aesthetics. Nearly three dozen members of the jury make the decisions. There were 25 Gold, 52 Silver, and 64 Bronze Winners in 2017. Gold winners are housed in a permanent collection at the Henry Ford Museum.

Edison Awards: Since 1987, Edison Universe has been giving out Gold, Silver, and Bronze Edison Awards in 16 categories ranging from applied technology to consumer goods to health and wellness, and transportation and logistics. There’s also an Annual Edison Achievement award, which was won this year by the CEO of Lockheed Martin. The key criteria to win, each of which has three to four sub-criteria, are: concept, value, delivery, and impact. Nearly 135 people compose a nominations committee that makes recommendations to a 25-person steering committee, and it decides the winners. There were 45 Gold, 45 Silver, and 47 Bronze Winners in 2017 across the 16 categories.

Breakthrough Innovation Awards: Since 2008, Nielsen has recognized breakthrough innovations in consumer products. Only a few awards are given out each year. There were 18 Winners in 2017. Since inception, Nielsen has awarded only 110 U.S. products and 198 globally out of over 30,000 entries. The hurdles are quite high. First, the product must be distinctive and deliver a new value proposition to the market. Second, it has to have generated more than $50 million in its first year of U.S. sales. Lastly, it has to have generated more than 90% of year-one sales in year two. Both the size and longevity of achievement differentiate it from other new-product innovation awards.

CES Innovation Awards: Since 2015, the Consumer Technology Association has recognized innovative consumer electronics products. There are 28 award categories including 3D printing, cybersecurity, gaming, VR and AR, and smart homes and cities, and two award levels, Honorees and Best of Innovations. The key criteria to win include: engineering qualities; aesthetic design; intended use/function and user value, uniqueness/novelty; and comparative analysis to same-space products. Each category is judged by a three-member team composed of an industrial designer, an engineer, and a member of the trade press. Because everyone likes an award, there are oodles of Honorees. But, to win Best of Innovation in a specific category, products must exceed a minimum number of points. Thirty-six winnerswere chosen this year across the 28 categories.

Edison announces its award winners in the spring, Nielsen in early summer, IDSA in late summer, R&D 100 in the fall, and CES in January.

Are you planning to compete in 2018?

From Machine Design – Author Bradford Goldense

Also visit:

RedDot / IF / A Design Award / Core77 /

30 presentations from the 2017 Product Design Symposium

Over 30 presentations from the 2017 Product Design Symposium held at the Technical University of Denmark in November are now on-line for viewing and downloading through the symposium’s web site at https://lnkd.in/gtyzkZb.

The four days of the meeting covered:

  1. Product Architecture (https://lnkd.in/gNApb-S) 
  2. Robust Design (https://lnkd.in/g42nYn4),
  3. Product/Service Systems (https://lnkd.in/gD4S2NY)
  4. Conceptualising Sustainable Futures (https://lnkd.in/gHpTaH2 

Including a presentation by former President of the UN General Assembly Mogens Lykketoft).

By Chris Mac Mahon

Bringing Design Thinking to China

From Linkedin´s article

I just returned from a trip to China and wanted to write down a few reflections. The week began with a visit to Tsinghua University in Beijing with whom we’ve partnered to develop a design-thinking curriculum, and ended with a stop at IDEO’s Shanghai studio.

The people I met were mostly young entrepreneurial candidates for the design coursework. There’s an enormous entrepreneurial vein in China, and it’s not all about technology. I was interested to learn about the vast array of ideas they’re spinning up, from products and services to renewable energy to real estate to social entrepreneurship. The culture there is very commercial, but there was huge enthusiasm about how design could make them better business-builders.

And the faculty are listening: the Vice President and Provost of Tsinghua University expressed interest in bringing the latest on design thinking to China and incorporating design thinking into Tsinghua’s engineer education. It’s an exciting prospect to think that these graduates may be the next business leaders of China. This is a long play—it may take a decade—but eventually there’s going to be more people who are trying to solve problems through the lens of human beings and there’s a palpable enthusiasm about that shift.

Part of it will require transitioning from a “Made in China” to a “Created in China” sensibility. There’s evidence of a new focus on R&D: The 5-year plans that are coming out of the central government place innovation and climate change high on the agenda. And not a moment too soon, as other nations have taken up mass manufacturing and Chinese brands have to distinguish themselves not just on price point, but also on quality and new ideas.

Take DJI, the drone company. China’s scale propelled their business initially, but they now own about 70 percent of the global world market, according to the Financial Times, because they’ve invested in innovation and international growth. Other major players like Huawei and Tencent know, too, that they can’t just be a domestic play. That global mindedness represents both an opportunity and a challenge. Chinese companies can’t be run algorithmically anymore, they need to get creative about expanding their market.

One thing that left me breathless while I was there was how China has the ability to leapfrog systems solutions. I rode high-speed rail from Beijing to Shanghai and sitting in the station on one of the pristine trains you look out the window and see a white polished marble platform that stretches to infinity. They travel at a ridiculous speed completely silently and run with Swiss precision. We had seats in a business class cabin that was more comfortable than any airline I’ve ever flown. Compare it to dark, dank Penn Station and it puts American rail to shame.

If the Chinese can do that with trains I can only imagine what hospitals and cities could become if the human-centered design is practiced at scale here.

From what I saw, and granted it was a limited view, the appetite is there to learn those tools of creativity. They don’t want to understand design to become more like America. They want to understand design to become a better version of China.

From IDEO CEO`S TIM BROWN
Original Article