Xola Ndziba: Lean Start-up Approach to Limu

Xola Ndziba: Lean Start-up Approach to Limu


Vital stats

  • Company: Limu
  • Player: Xola Ndziba
  • EST: 2013
  • Contact: +27 (0)71 230 7622,
  • Visit: www.e-limu.co.za


At age 23, UCT graduate Xola Ndziba is proving what innovation in learning means against the backdrop of South Africa’s ailing education sector. With just R5 000 and a degree in finance and economics, he launched Limu (Kiswahili for ‘learn’), an online school management system that enhances collaborative teaching, learning and research.


Taking advantage of a trend

The growth of online learning systems, identified globally as a key technology trend in 2014, bodes well for Limu. As a portal, Limu enables parents and teachers to interact, allows leaners to access their schoolwork from anywhere at any time, and gives parents a real-time view of how their children are performing at school.

A number of top schools in South Africa, including St Marys Waverley, Kingsmead College and St Dunstan’s College, have adopted Limu and have reported that the increased involvement of parents has improved academic results.

Just eight months into the business, Ndziba is eyeing monthly turnover of R200 000 and has secured funding of just under R2 million from Gauteng’s high-tech business incubator The Innovation Hub, based on the originality of his business idea and his passion for development in education.

“I based the idea for Limu on the portal we had at UCT, which gave students access to everything they needed online. I never had to carry a bag. When I left varsity, I decided to develop a similar system for schools.”


Keeping it lean

Ndziba attributes this early success not only to having a great idea, but also to his adoption of the lean start-up methodology, defined by Silicon valley entrepreneur Eric Ries, who says that if start-ups invest their time into iteratively building products or services to meet the needs of early customers, they can reduce the market risks and sidestep the need for large amounts of initial project funding and expensive product launches and failures.

“Instead of trying to perfect the product, I launched it at a few pilot sites and got immediate feedback on what was working and what wasn’t.

“I found out what users wanted and worked on that, rather than on what I thought they wanted. In the tech industry, it’s important to get your product to market ASAP, and get the users  to help you perfect it.”

The benefits of the lean start-up approach have already been well documented. It allows entrepreneurs to be more innovative, it prevents time wastage, and it enables them to be more successful, quickly.

As Ries points out, “Lean start-up isn’t about being cheap, it’s about being less wasteful and still doing things that are big.”



Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.