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Dr. Jacobus Lieb Liebenberg

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Entrepreneur
Dr. Jacobus Lieb Liebenberg
Company
ITSI
Industry
EdTech
Year Selected
2017
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Company Snapshot

Since launching its product in 2012, as the first to market in SA with an agnostic, fragmentation free, 21st century solution to eLearning, ITSI has remained the market leader, with 184 schools, 74 000 students, and more than 4 500 teachers using the solution in 2017.

Lieb was innovative from a young age, always tinkering with electronics, experimenting with and building all kinds of devices in his father’s garage. He set up his first informal business at 12; selling and trading fruit from their garden in the suburb where the family lived at the time. He later won a bursary to study electronic engineering in 1980 and completed the first 2 years successfully before deciding to change to the social sciences, ending up with a BA(Hon) (Greek), and Doctorate in Social Sciences. After spending a significant part of his life as a Researcher, Lieb decided to complete a Masters in IT. He then started his first company in 2003, which saw an opportunity to offer certified computer literacy training to adults, a product that is still certified and used by the University of Pretoria today.

In 2006, Lieb saw an opportunity to buy a business that was selling computer literacy certification to public and private schools in SA. He liked the subscription-based business model, which ensured predictable monthly cash flow into the business. However, by 2008 he realised the business was nearing its end of life as that market was rapidly reaching saturation. Learners in this particular market had computers at home and were able to use them properly. Schools could no longer justify offering this course. He then pivoted the business to focus directly on eLearning - specifically a solution which could potentially touch all educators and learners in a school, university or college.

ITSI currently makes money by providing its platform solution directly to educational institutions which ties into their existing Learning Management Systems. It allows publishers to manage and sell eBooks to institutions who are then able to integrate these eBooks from a variety of publishers into one comprehensive eLearning offering through a single entry point. ITSI has applied for a number of patents, mostly focused on the ability to allow individual teachers to add content directly into eBooks from any publisher, as well as its ability to monitor learner behaviour on the eBooks irrespective of whether this happens online or offline. In addition to this, ITSI also recently launched its online store which allows it to sell eBooks and other content directly to customers.