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Turning Points: Melanie Perkins, Co-Founder And CEO, Canva The founder of Canva believes in building products that serve communities.

By Pamella de Leon

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You're reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


In 2010, a talented makeup artist launched a beauty blog out of her flat in Dubai, with the only comments to her posts coming from her sisters. Two years later, in the summer months of 2012, two McKinsey & Company colleagues decided to quit their jobs, and start a ride-hailing digital business. Another two years later, in February 2014, a passionate publishing and sales executive gathered a group of like-minded colleagues to create a media publishing house that would truly deliver and cater to the needs of the Middle East region, vowing to give a voice to the current and future generations of business leaders in the Arab world.

Today, as we open a new decade, it's good to see what the aforementioned personalities are up to today. Huda Kattan is the founder and CEO of Huda Beauty, one of the world's fastest-growing beauty brands, which is valued at US$1 billion. Magnus Olsson and Mudassir Sheikha have already put their signature on the largest technology sector transaction in the Middle East, having agreed to sell the enterprise they founded, Careem, to Uber Technologies for $3.1 billion last year. Likewise, Wissam Younane, CEO of BNC Publishing, the media house behind Entrepreneur Middle East, is gearing up for the sixth anniversary of his enterprise's flagship publication for the MENA region's entrepreneurs and business-minded readership in February 2020.

With these being just a couple of the turning points that have characterized business and entrepreneurship in the region over this last decade, we asked a few enterprising individuals to tell us more about instants in the last 10 years that have had a significant impact on their career trajectories. It is our hope that these will serve as insight and inspiration for a whole new generation of upstarts that will rise from this region (and beyond) over the next decade- we're looking forward to the future!

Melanie Perkins
Co-founder and CEO, Canva

Canva co-founder and CEO Melanie Perkins' intensive travelling taught her about the needs and challenges of people across the globe, one of them being the inaccessibility of online services because of language barriers. "This was a key turning point for me, as it was a motivator for us to introduce Canva in a hundred languages."

Today, the young entrepreneur is one of the world's youngest female founders to run a $1 billion venture-backed company, Canva, an online design startup that allows anyone to design everything from greeting cards to calendars, with its services currently being offered in over 100 languages. Perkins explains that, this past year, the Canva team also tackled right-to-left languages, such as Arabic, which has been a significant step forward in their mission of empowering the world to design.

"In addition, we've also introduced more diverse images into our photo library and more inclusive templates that resonate with different cultures and people," Perkins adds. "It's incredibly important to have a global outlook of the world we live in, and be able to serve our community with products that are meaningful to them."

If you Google the name of Perkins' startup, you'll quickly learn that it has become a household name today, with people in 190 countries using the platform. To cope with this fast-paced growth, Perkins has started making use of a special method to guide herself as an entrepreneur over the last year. "I've started using The Five Minute Journal, which has been a lovely way to start the day writing what I'm grateful for, and what I'm looking forward to throughout the day," she says.

"It's a much nicer alternative to emails first thing in the morning! The first part of The Five Minute Journal is in the morning, and the second part is just before I go to bed which asks, "Three amazing things that happened today,' and "How could I have made today even better?' It's nice to have a quick moment to reflect before going to bed. I spend a lot of my day focused on things that could be improved, or how we should take things to the next level, so it's nice to spend a moment reflecting on things that are going well at the end of the day."

Related: Turning Points: Simon Casson, President Of Hotel Operations For Europe, Middle East And Africa, Four Seasons Hotels And Resorts

Pamella de Leon

Startup Section Editor, Entrepreneur Middle East

Pamella de Leon is the Startup Section Editor at Entrepreneur Middle East. She is keen on the MENA region’s entrepreneurship potential, with a specific interest to support enterprises and individuals creating an impact.


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