propularMark Cantwell is the Managing Director of Propular, a platform he and others have designed to make social media “a more personal experience again”.

Propular allows users to simplify their social experience and combine their accounts on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Google+ into a single shareable profile/card and to collect the cards of their favourite people.  The site is responsively designed so renders well on any screen size although their primary focus is mobile and tablet.

There is also a content ranking system called “Propscore” this shows how much people like or dislike your content. Users can earn props for; creating an account, collecting a card (Propular’s equivalent to adding/following/subscribing) and being giving props by other users. Right now Mark is rather proud of having the highest Propscore on the team but he reckons as soon more users get on board that situation is going to change.

Although Mark has worked on Propular officially for 5 months, he has been involved in the project for a year. It was conceived 4 years ago by Martyn Ashton and his brother Andy and backed by Mitch Dall, founding partner of cycling retailer Wiggle. (Incidentally, those with a predilection for anything two-wheeled may wish to check out Ashton’s Road Bike Party.)

PropTeamThe team (left) who are presently managed by Mark and who are responsible for the new “refined and streamlined” version of Propular, comprises the following; Bristol-based designer Jon Tan, who has helped Mark “strip the product down to its bare essentials”, and who also runs the Mild Bunch studio in Stokes Croft, Bristol; the “amazing code wizard” Eugene Getov who Mark originally worked with at Bike Radar and Cycling News; and finally Kester Limb, the team’s “front-end ninja”.

Although Mark and the team have a setup they’re happy with now, the sailing hasn’t always been so plain. Working from home, Mark said, can get “weird and lonely”, and he advises anyone thinking about developing a startup to “get out into a shared office space if you can, as personal interactions are important for sanity and other people help you find solutions to problems quicker than boshing at it on your own”.

Another potential pitfall for startups, as Mark found out, can be the cost of legal advice and accounting: “Lawyers and Accountants are expensive and charge you by the call or email, so do as much as you can on your own and save up their time for the really important stuff.” Mark also recommends accounting software from freeagent, and speaking to other startups who “will usually share their own learnings with you”.

“However long you think it’s going to take to get launched, add 25%”


Finally, Mark says, ‘However long you think it’s going to take to get launched, add 25%. Things always go wrong and you are going to need that time to put it right. However,  if you don’t need that time then you launch early and look like a hero. So if you’re prepared it’s a kind of win, win scenario.”

Propular is currently in a beta stage. Although in name it may progress beyond beta-hood, Mark “[has been working in various aspects of digital media for almost 10 years now, and the one thing I have learned is that if you stay still you are dead.”

“I’ve been working in various aspects of digital media for almost 10 years now, and the one thing I have learned is that if you stay still you are dead”


“You should always use the data at hand to create a better experience for your audience and strive to build them something great.  We are out there now and we will have some very public successes and failures, but we will always strive to make the best product we can for the audience based on their feedback and usage data. So in a way we are always beta testing something.”

placeit-03-500When asked about his greatest successes with Propular so far, Mark answered, “That we didn’t break when we launched has been a big one for me.” Jokes aside, however, Propular has also signed some ‘significant’ co-promotion deals with “big partners”, details of which must be kept a secret, for now. On successfully completing the deals, Mark said, “It’s great when people trust you because they believe in what you are trying to do, even when the product is still small.”

As far as connecting with Propular is concerned, Mark urges people to join up. “Invite a few friends, as the whole point is to create more intimate collections of people that you really care about.”

Employment opportunities may also arise; Mark told TechSPARK “We will be looking at expanding the team in early 2015 and will be looking at community managers, designers and hopefully some more developers to help Eugene.”

As Mark explains: “If there are any people that are interested in partnerships and ultimately being more involved in the business financially they should drop me a line on  We will look at every opportunity and as long as they fit with our vision for Propular then we will find a way to make most things happen.” Exciting!

Of course, Mark also had something to say about the advantages of working in Bath (who doesn’t?). “The Southwest in general”, according to Propular’s MD, “has a great pool of talent and I think that the culture is a little more positive and helpful.

“The Southwest in general has a great pool of talent and I think that the culture is a little more positive and helpful”


“I have attended meet up events in London and the Southwest and there is an edge to London that I don’t like, people can be quite secretive and duplicitous.  I am a very open and honest person and that is how I like to work. I find that the people of Bath and Bristol are generally of the same mind.  Resource and Infrastructure is also growing in the Southwest and there is a great support network for new businesses.  Plus, you don’t have to sit on a tube for 45 mins to get everywhere.”

To send Mark a line, email, and for feedback on their website, hit up