#PopiInParis: the inspiration and innovation

We took some of our top customers to the City of Lights for our third Innovation Trip. Why? Because at Popimedia we believe that true innovation comes from venturing outside of your comfort zone, and what better way to do that than to travel to where the language is foreign and the approach to business even more so.

Apart from attending the world’s leading tech conference and visiting tech giants’ playgrounds, we immersed ourselves into the French culture and passion for life. A real success at #BuildingBusiness. But enough of what we think – read more about what our clients had to say below.

Dr Melanie van Rooy 


I must admit that thinking of my trip to Paris with Popimedia brings back such fond memories. As a 54-year old, I was almost 2 decades older than the next oldest member of the group, which was quite daunting at first. But for four days I was just Mel; part of a bright, ambitious, innovative and fun group of people with one common goal – to learn as much as possible of the wonderful world of digital marketing and innovation.

“…for four days I was just Mel; part of a bright, ambitious, innovative and fun group of people…”

This was my third trip to Paris but for the first time I experienced the city at night in ways I never expected to. I saw millions of skeleton bones while walking down a spiral staircase to the dungeons below the city, I saw the most amazingly beautiful women dance with enormous snakes and glittering costumes and I saw a group of geriatric Parisians dance the night away in a jazz club with more gusto and zest than I ever seen. 

I am going through quite a difficult time in my life and these four days reminded me of how great life really is. Yes, of course the Viva conference was amazing and Station F was the most innovative space I have ever come across, but it was the ten people with me on the trip that impacted me more than they will ever know.

Some folks visit Disney World while travelling abroad – then there’s the self-proclaimed geeks (such as the Popi-crew and myself) who pop into the City of Lights, have a quick glimpse and fly-by of the Eiffel Tower, museums and Champs-Élysées, then beeline it straight to a massive technology conference called VivaTech, a 1 000 startup packed hub called Station F and social media offices for lunch.

“Some folks visit Disney World…the self-proclaimed geeks…beeline it straight to a massive technology conference”

My key learnings and top buzzword-filled sentences are as follows:

  1. There are experts of the past, and there are experts of the future – we at Alibaba embraced the future and only focused on that ~ Jack Ma
  2. Cloud computing can be used to solve complex problems with newfound efficiency – use cases include using data and facial recognition to find and identify missing children online ~ Amazon Web Services.
  3. Cisco showing us some next-gen technology and how they were able to connect hungry cows on a remote disconnected muddy island while using IoT, 5G and satellites.
  4. Louis Vuitton showcased some cool augmented reality and a giant sports bag with integrated fiber optic lights – as with most LV products, the real world use case is completely unknown.
  5. French Champagne is best served in an ice bucket and finished before the ice melts.

Wesley Hellyar 

Moth Innovate

Jessica van der Westhuyzen


There are two words that sum up my learnings from this experience as a whole: change and passion. Change is the new normal, and we need to embrace it. We can’t be comfortable with doing things a certain way because tomorrow that way will need to change. We need to constantly and consciously be aware of thinking, analyzing, executing and approaching tasks differently. Change is the only constant (and necessity) if we want to remain current and be seen as market leaders and innovative businesses. Passion is the driving force behind success. Be passionate about your work, your people, your ideas, and be passionate about life. Passion is the energy that keeps us filled with meaning and happiness, and it will inspire those around us.

From the companions on the trip I learnt that it’s okay to be fierce and ballsy in the workplace, to take risks and back yourself, and not be afraid to try new things. To believe in your own beliefs and always be hungry to learn, grow, partner and collaborate.

“I realised that a good company is more important than a powerful company, that soft skills in a business are as important as a tech stack”

My take-outs from the conference are plentiful, but what I realised most is that we are living in the most exciting times, and that the future is now. Cars that fly are not the future, it is a reality. Drones that transport people are not the future, it is happening right now. I realised that a good company is more important than a powerful company, that soft skills in a business are as important as a tech stack, that if your employees love your business, your customers will love it, and that your people are your most important assets. If your team is happy, you will succeed.

Jack Ma’s “fireside interview” is my most inspirational memory of the trip, and he closed off by asking three questions: What do you have? What do you want? What will you give up?

“If you don’t think about these 3 questions, you will be lost” – Jack Ma, VivaTech 2019

Popimedia brings the innovation to us, yet the 2019 Innovation Trip took us to the forefront of innovation. The world-leading tech conference, VivaTech, included trailblazing robots and future-thinking humans. We saw tech pioneers and global organisations from every sector. Machines, learning and machine learning. Mixed reality and AI. All celebrating co-creations, mash-ups and tech!

“We saw tech pioneers and… machines, learning and machine learning.”

A highlight was a site visit to Station F, the largest start-up campus, gathering a whole entrepreneurial ecosystem under one roof. 

Thank you Popimedia, this unique event offered us the opportunity to explore the practice of corporate innovation through different lenses and angles such as: disruption and new business models, creating an innovation culture, open innovation and the ecosystem, the role of leadership in innovation and innovation in marketing.

Mercia Lampen


Matan Atias


PopiInParis – on my third visit to Paris I finally understood the fuss about the city of love. 11 of us marketers and techies ventured out for a few jam-packed days of Popimedia-lead inspiration, food, wine and cultural expansion.

I believe in having the right balance of people coupled with design that allows for expansion, and that is exactly what Paris provided. A group of diverse people bundled together shooting from VivaTech to the catacombs, Facebook HQ and staying in one of the most avant-garde hotels I have ever seen. 

“We achieved what we set out to do and did so in style and je ne sais quoi.”

The results were spectacular; within a few hours conversations started to sprout about life, marketing, sales, technology and how we would change our situations back home for the better. This discourse continued and evolved as no two people were seen huddling for too long – the group was truly dynamic and rotated amongst each other. We achieved what we set out to do and did so in style and je ne sais quoi.

I’m thankful for and eager to grab life’s great opportunities….and just sometimes I find myself lucky enough to be adding value to the lives of those around me as well. Popimedia’s Innovation Trip 2019 was one of those special opportunities and it proved to be a life changing experience.

“…and it proved to be a life changing experience.”

To pencil an abstract of the trip in just a few words is a difficult task. What a privilege it was to be sitting amongst thousands of captivated listeners, learning from Jack Ma’s thought-provoking speech. I decided to take his inspiring words; “What do you have, what do you want and what are you willing to give up?” and integrate it into my daily being, whether it’s work, play or on even prayer. Innovation is about bettering the future state, but in this fast-paced life, how can we change or invent for the better when we are not willing to take a step back, pause, and witness the “what do we have?”. It is when we appreciate what we have as a country, a society, an organization and even as an individual that the possibilities and opportunities for change, invention and betterment become endless.

I have come to appreciate that there is always someone smarter than oneself, and if you are open you can learn from anyone. The inventions and technology at the VivaTech conference were out of this world and yes, Paris is majestically beautiful, but the learnings from spending invaluable time with my travel companions (friends) is something to be cherished. We were a great bunch of individuals with the common goal of making a difference.

I’ll conclude with the wise words of Mr Ma; “The difference between AI (Artificial Intelligence) and people is that AI doesn’t have dreams”. Let’s not ponder on what to give up, but let us reach beyond our barriers and reach our dreams!

Barend Smit


Katya Cook


The PopiInParis trip was saturated with notable experiences, from the VivaTech conference, visiting Facebook Paris and Station F to touring catacombs, cruising on the Seine and visiting the Moulin Rouge. Not to mention staying in a hotel which personified Paris’ reputation for sophistication and luxury.

“Experiencing Parisian culture in the context of this trip has inspired me to focus more on living an enriching life, rather than just a functional life.”

Perhaps the most prominent take-out for myself was simply an implicit reminder to constantly strive towards flexibility in your thinking. This extends across all avenues of life; from one’s approach to business through to art, design, eating etc. As much as we may try to compartmentalise our lives, there will always be an overlap between our business and world view. Experiencing Parisian culture in the context of this trip has inspired me to focus more on living an enriching life, rather than just a functional life. In a business sense, this transpires into always producing work which is not only functional but which is well designed and creative too.

Paris with Popimedia was one of the most amazing life experiences I have had so far. As a creative, it has been a lifelong dream of mine to walk the streets of Paris.

While sitting at the airport on my way back and reflecting on the trip, I asked myself; “Is this how it feels when something in your soul shifts? When you are awakened?”

The tech and the talks were amazing, inspiring me greatly. But what moved me deeply was the people. The feeling of Paris. The creative presence in Montmartre. Walking in the footsteps of artistic giants.

“What touched my soul is the way the Parisians live in the moment.”

What touched my soul is the way the Parisians live in the moment. When they eat, they take their time and enjoy every bite. When they dance, they dance all night. They live. And in everything they do, they are proud.

I will apply this to my life.

Ezelle Fourie


Topaz Booysen


For many of us, Paris is synonymous with romance, art and culinary excellence. But after this Innovation Trip, it would be remiss of me not to include Innovation Capital of Europe, passion built on bones of the dead and the pinnacle of tech, to the list of accolades.

The sheer height and durability of the Eiffel tower was rivalled by the scale of the VivaTechnology conference. Also built for a temporary world fair, the impact of the otherworldly technology on display will impact many generations to come.

“…with a passion that even the greats in their gilded Louvre frames would have appreciated.”

Walking through Station F, the largest startup campus on the planet, we marveled at the caliber of the talent on display. Entrepreneurs moulded their startups with a passion that even the greats in their gilded Louvre frames would have appreciated.

And as we enjoyed jazz in underground stone vaults, we spared a thought for the 6 million buried in the walls around us, while the exuberance of the Parisians on the midnight dancefloor payed homage to their ancestors.

This was not a business trip, but a life trip. One that calls for printed-out photographs…and that’s saying something.

Topaz Booysen

Topaz Booysen

Topaz takes care of marketing and communications at Popimedia. She manages our brand, digital channels, communications, product marketing and client retention. And “gets to work with the greatest marketing team on the planet”.

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