Canva: Product Management Process and Stack

Canva is one of the fastest growing companies around and now has 500 staff. I recently interviewed Robert Kawalsky who’s startup Zeetings, was acquired by Canva in April 2018. Robert soon took the lead for both Zeetings and Canva Presentations groups which represents a huge opportunity in Enterprise, SME and also Education.

Our the interview (a fireside at Fishburners) covered a lot of topics – I’ve selected 5 minutes where I asked what he’s learned about Product Management processes, tools, stack inside Canva.

From Chaos to Clarity

A few times in the talk, Robert referred to Canva’s method of wrangling ideas into features, he called this “Chaos to Clarity” – its a great description of the a product feature’s journey. The “Chaos to Clarity” process is:

  1. Initial Visual Lo-Fi designs – at Canva they are very visual about the way something would appear to a user. This is done in Canva. Sketches, Wireframes, Mockups.
  2. Pitch Deck for that Product/Feature – also done in Canva.

  3. Press Release for that Product/Feature – typically done in Google Docs.
  4. Strategy Document – a long form description that outlines the problem, user stories, dependencies with other products

  5. Design Document – this is the handoff from Product Team to Design/Engineering
  6. Prototype – this is typically used for putting on so they can verify user understanding and response.
  7. Technical Design Doc – where engineering consider the implementation requirements.

Canva’s Product Management stack is: Canva (surprise!), Google Docs,, Jira, Trello, Mode and Amplitude for analytics.

Ideas are the lifeblood of startups and agility can easily degrade into chaos. Too much order and you have stultifying bureaucracy – the Canva process strikes a good balance of balance.

The Full Fireside

For those interested in Roberts’ broader journey and a success story of an acquisition of a small startup into a powerhouse unicorn, here is the full video. (its missing a few minutes from the start). 

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