Hi. I’m Mark Forrester, an English born South African. A designer turned entrepreneur. A husband and a dad.
Over the past 15 years I’ve started a few companies, but my most notable has to be WooThemes (acquired in 2015).
My early escapades
- 2001-2003 – My first entrepreneurial adventure was as a mobile disc jockey. Having worked as a Christmas temp at a large department store in the UK, I came home and purchased some sound equipment with my savings. I offered DJ services for birthday parties and weddings. It helped to fund my rent and fun during university days (University of Cape Town).
- 2004-2005 – After graduating from university I started my first business, with 2 fellow graduates. Gravit8 – an I.T business solutions company. The company is still going strong without me.
- 2007-2008 – I met some smart South African techies and we launched an African social media aggregator called Afrigator. I was the designer on the team. Shortly after we were acquired by MIH Print Africa.
- 2008 – I helped my wife launch African Cartel. Helping traffic light artists sell their work online. Our short film appeared on CNN.
Winning others over
For many years, alongside my startup adventures, I had been freelancing in the UK as a web designer, working with a variety of international businesses. Getting paid by the hour 🙁
I was experimenting with a blogging platform called WordPress. This site was my testing grounds and creative outlet.
In late 2007, I connected with 2 like-minded strangers – via their WordPress sites. We were in opposite corners of the world, but shared a common goal – to turn our billable hours into off the shelf products. Commoditising our services and growing more passive income streams.
In 2008, we registered a company together – WooThemes. WooThemes was born as a globally distributed company (with a small IRL presence in Cape Town). We built commercial WordPress templates and were focussed on making beautiful, innovative design accessible and affordable.
A few years later, after listening to our customers needs, we started developing plugins – and it changed everything. We launched WooCommerce – which soon became the most popular eCommerce platform for WordPress.
Fast forward some explosive growth, accompanied by some fantastic highs and hard learnings, WooThemes was acquired by Automattic.
Our quest remains – to democratise eCommerce, whilst making meaningful contributions to open source software. WooCommerce.com is now home to all things Woo.
After nearly 2 years with Automattic I’ve moved into a non-operational, advisory role. Actively tracking and helping to shape an exciting roadmap for the platform.
- Being a dad and growing humans.
- I ❤️ taking photos.
- I’m an experimental beer brewer.
- I’m a Newcastle United football fan. Howay the lads!
- I’m learning to surf.
- This site is powered by the woonderful WordPress open source platform, with a few additional plugins.
- This site uses the Twenty Fifteen WordPress theme with some minor custom CSS modifications.
- My logo was designed by the talented, Cape Town based illustrator and cartoonist, Alex Latimer.
- Whilst I’m not particularly proud of my early archive of blog posts it encapsulates my journey and maturity as a designer, entrepreneur and human.