If you’ve ever been at a loss for what to do in Johannesburg, you’ll know about joburg.co.za, a guide to the city’s best entertainment and recreation spots. It’s the brainchild of Shelli Nurcombe-Thorne who started her online publishing business, Velocity Media, in 2004. Joburg.co.za has more than 180 000 newsletter subscribers and an advertising base to match.
The former PR and marketing manager had decided she was tired of Cape Town getting all the attention. “It was time for a site that marketed Joburg to Joburgers,” she says. “I spent a year working on the model with my business partner, Ken Farther, who has all the technology and finance know-how.”
Farther was also the business’s angel, providing the finance to get it launched, while Nurcombe-Thorne did the work.
“I could not have done it without Ken’s help,” she says. “We had to develop the site and then get advertising which was a major challenge after the dot.com crash. New business owners need to have mentors and people they can turn to for advice.”
Nurcombe-Thorne’s sense of humour was a feature from the start, making it immensely popular with advertisers and consumers alike. She grew joburg.co.za through a series of viral marketing campaigns at a time when the concept of viral was new and exciting. She has since launched her blog, Joburg’s Darling, which has had more than 6 000 unique visitors in less than a year.
Player: Shelli Nurcombe-Thorne
Company: Velocity Media
Contact: +27 (0)11 781 4563;joburg.co.za