Indaba, creating opportunities and learning how to build a bomb.


One of the things I love about Indaba is the opportunities it creates. It is so much more than a show for the big corporates and tourism giants, there is space for the little guys to get noticed too.

Wetu Travel have a mini tech zone this year and it was here that I encountered Digital Shelf.

This two man company was only formed in February this year and yet here they are talking at Indaba. It might be on a small scale but they are making a big impression and doing business.

It was the title of their presentation that caught my attention.

“How to build a bomb. Making content pop.”

In a digital world full of noise this is exactly what we need to know. How to stand out and get noticed.

So, who and what are Digital Shelf.

Darren Combrink and Johann Smith are the owners and are polar opposites.

Combrink spent many years in corporate IT , before changing track, walking the 800km Camino in Spain then retraining as a tour guide and running his own company for a few years. In this time he became fascinated by social media marketing and became something of a Twitter guru.

Combrink is a gentleman, polite, softly spoken, and quick to smile. He tells me he is a very structured person.

Smith is a creative through and through. He spent a few years as a music journalist before moving to content creation in the travel industry. Smith is intense, passionate and becomes increasingly animated as he warms to his theme.

When I asked him what Digital Shelf do he replied “We can do anything. There are no constraints. We have the spirit of pioneers. We don’t see rules, we see opportunities”

I love the way Smith talks in Tweets and sound bites.

Combrink’s reply to the same question was as follows “Johann creates the content and I amplify it on various social media platforms according to a strategic plan. Or in Johann speak, he builds the bomb and I drop it”

Digital Shelf is a company that is producing content with passion that is balanced by science.

In their presentation Smith relates these mind boggling numbers.

From 1200BC until 2003 the human race generated 5 Exabyte’s of data.

We now produce that every 2 days.

So yes, to stand out in this digital explosion you do need to build a bomb. Equally important is knowing when and where to drop it.

Smith’s creative mind appears to know no limits. He describes Digital Shelf as alternative, rock stars, outside the box thinkers. A company happy to break down preconceived notions of how things should be done. As a small company they have to be flexible and resourceful and in this environment Smith thrives.

Combrink is a people person, he listens to his clients, understands the tourism industry and his experience as a tour operator gives him insight into both the consumer and the supplier.

Together they are a winning combination.

Judging by the number of people queuing up to talk to them after their presentation, what they are doing is resonating with the industry.

In a digital world that is easily bored and fast becoming a morass of recycled mediocre content, Digital Shelf is perfectly poised for success.

Their final presentation of the show will be held at 1pm on Monday at the Wetu Travel tech area. ICC F09.



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